The creation of more favorable workplace environments through the improvement of patient-nurse ratios is crucial for retaining practicing nurses and, thus, for combating the nursing shortage in hospitals. According to research findings, California’s nurse-to-patient mandate has led to favorable changes in this regard and its effect on nurses’ performance can be deemed positive. For instance, a recent study by Leigh, Markis, Iosif, and Romano (2015) demonstrates that the law has induced a significant decrease in the rate of occupational injuries and illnesses among the members of the nursing population in California. It means that, besides an overall increase in the number of hired nurses in hospitals, practitioners started to skip their shifts less due to various health problems and, in this way, a proper patient-nurse ratio has become easier to maintain.
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When speaking of nurse-to-patient mandates, it is important to understand the stance of its opponents. According to Abraham (2018) such organizations as the American Hospital Association and the American Organization of Nursing Executives, which are against the mandatory ratios, claim that this initiative would “make scheduling and staffing rigid, create unmanageable hiring costs and, above all, result in higher costs of care” (para. 1). Nevertheless, some experts and researchers also consider that safe staffing ratios lead to better patient outcomes and, therefore, result in greater savings (Abraham, 2018). Considering significant controversies in opinions and the lack of high-quality research evidence focused specifically on this topic, more studies should be done to demonstrate that the benefits of mandated patient-nurse ratios can indeed outweigh their costs. Future research must measure patient and financial outcomes affected by nursing practice and ratios in order to substantiate the arguments of either opponents or supporters of the mandate.
Abraham, T. (2018). Fight for mandated nurse-to-patient ratios heats up. Healthcare Dive. Web.
Leigh, J. P., Markis, C. A., Iosif, A., & Romano, P. S. (2014). California’s nurse-to-patient ratio law and occupational injury. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 88(4), 477-484.