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Laws Mandating Nurse Staffing

A bill currently going through the paces in the New York state legislature would put in place laws mandating nurse staffing that would require specific staffing ratios.

According to an Associated Press article, it seems that the debate over the bill is causing a bit of a split between nurses and hospitals.

The New York State Nurses Association backs the bill saying that “members at 57 unionized hospitals last year filed 19,292 separate protests of staffing assignments they considered unsafe.” Those in favor of laws mandating nurse staffing believe that requiring one nurse for every two ICU patients and 1-to-4 ratios in medical-surgical units will improve patient experience and care while decreasing deaths and re-admissions. Proponents also believe complaints will plummet and that hospitals will be just fine financially.

On the other hand, New York’s hospitals are against the bill saying it would hinder their ability to be flexible with staff scheduling and that it would cost facilities and nursing homes approximately $3 billion annually. Many facilities believe they can self-police and move staff around as needed to maintain quality patient care. This camp believes service will actually suffer as a result of such legislation because due to the anticipated financial stress services will actually suffer too.

If the bill is successful it would be the second such set of laws mandating nurse staffing. In 1999 California passed legislation setting mandatory nurse staff ratios — although the laws were not implemented until 2004. Both opponents and advocates of the bill use California’s experience to defend their position.

The AP article cites a 2002 study from the Journal of American Medical Association which found that “hospitals with high patient-to-nurse ratios had higher death rates among surgical patients and nursing staff more likely to experience burnout. The study of more than 10,000 nurses and 230,000 patients found that with each additional patient assigned to a nurse, the likelihood of dying within 30 days after admission rose 7 percent.”

But, as Brian Conway, of the Greater New York Hospital Association told the AP the bill would actually work against its own goals costing money, draining resources, and resulting in less support staff.

How do you think laws mandating nurse staffing in your state would affect patient care and finances/resources in your facility?



Sarah Wengert

Hi, I'm Sarah Wengert, a creative content writer for the amazing Medical Solutions based in Omaha, Nebraska. While I'm not a travel nurse, I love to travel and I truly appreciate the hard, important work that nurses do. I'm very happy to represent a company that cares so much about its people. Thanks for reading!

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