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Minimum Staffing Levels: Essential for quality care

As of January 1, 2008 California has implemented it’s historic safe hospital staffing law which states that every hospital must abide by certain ratios for every department within the care facility. These ratios have transformed hospital care and helped increase patient safety by ordering them to maintain minimum, specific nurse-to-patient staffing ratios for all hospital units at all times. The ratios vary from department to department, for example, 1:3 in Step Down, 1:4 in Telemetry and 1:4 in other Specialty Care units.

Now that California has shown that this can work, nurses elsewhere around the country are demanding the same of their states. The National Nurses Organizing Committee agrees that this is one effective way to quell the nursing shortages in hospitals around the country. Since the law has been in effect in California, some 80,000 have come into workforce, either returning or new. More lives are being saved, patient needs are fully assessed and nurses are staying at the bedside longer which in turn is reducing the effect of the shortage.

The hospital industry has tried to overturn the new laws, but the popularity among patients, nurses and communities is too strong. Nurses who have had experience with the ratio law have praised its effectiveness and nurses elsewhere reiterate the importance of having similar laws in their own states.
Not only does patient care increase, so does the workforce. “Before the ratios were enacted, we had complete turnover of our entire RN staff twice in three years,” said Trande Phillips, RN, Kaiser Permanente, Walnut Creek, CA. “We were always working short staffed and patients suffered. Now the only time nurses leave is if they are moving or going back to school.”

With the laws in place, nurses have more time to do their jobs properly. There’s time to fully check charts and do the patient and family teaching that is essential to avoiding future complications. I agree that this is a step in the right direction. However this is only part of the solution, there are still many factors to the shortage that must be addressed. It is a good start though.

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Patrick Fuerstenau

Patrick Fuerstenau here. Born in Kentucky, raised in Germany, landed in Nebraska and still here. I've been involved with Marketing and Advertising for over a decade. It all began with an internship at an ad agency in Omaha, followed by a 9 year stint as a graphic artist at the lone major newspaper in Omaha. A friend of mine told me about an opening at her company and said that it was the best gig she's ever had... So I decided to spread my proverbial wings and see what I could do for them and vice versa. So here I am at Medical Solutions and am going on my 3rd year as a Marketing Specialist for a great travel nursing company. This by far has been a major blessing in my life. I love the work I get to do just as much as I love the people who make up this fabulous company. I can see myself here for a long time... As long as they'll have me. Now that we've got the career timeline out of the way... Let me tell you a little about who I am. I am oh so passionate about the game of futbol! I've been playing soccer since the age of 8 and am still playing today. If I couldn't at least kick the ball around, I don't know what I would do with myself. I fear getting old. I also have a strong love for the arts... Music, Visual arts, Film, Design... pretty much anything and everything arty. I'm happy go lucky and am always looking to have a good time. Just ask my manager! And I love writing about travel nursing.