Nurse-to-patient ratio laws are laws that mandate that there should be a minimum nurse to patient ratio. In California, the laws mandate that there should be a 1:6 nurse to patient ratio in psychiatrists, 1:5 nurse to patient ratio in medical surgery units, 1:4 nurse to patient ratio in pediatrics, 1:3 nurse to patient ratio in labor (delivery) and 1:2 nurse to patient ratio in intensive care units (Leigh, 2015). The laws were enacted with a purpose of improving patient care. Studies have revealed that nurse to patient ratio laws has played a major role in improving patient care in various domains of health care. Nurse to patient ratio laws promote patient safety by improving patient mortality, reducing cases of occupational injury among nurses, reducing cases of illness among nurses, reducing nurses workload and improve nurse retention (Leigh, 2015).
Nurse-to-patient ratio laws plays a major role in ensuring nurses notice quickly and respond to symptoms of preventable healthcare complications. Early detection of symptoms of preventable conditions goes a long way in ensuring that patients are accorded appropriate health care, and in doing so, patient safety is improved. Studies have revealed that lower nurse-to-patient ratios play a significant role in reducing chances of a patients death (Neuraz et al., 2015).
Studies have revealed that reduced cases of occupational injury among nurses go a long way in ensuring that nurses receive optimal health care. Nurses who are not suffering from illnesses are in a better position to provide better patient care than nurses who are suffering from illnesses (Leigh et al., 2015).
The laws go a long way in ensuring that nurses have reduced workloads. Nurses who have reduced workloads are in a better to position to provide individualistic care to patients. Patients who receive individualistic care are less likely to suffer from safety issues in a healthcare setting (Neuraz et al., 2015).
Given that nurse to patient ratios play a major role in improving nurses retention rates, nurses are often motivated to do all they can to ensure that patients well being and safety is improved (Cho et al., 2015).
Cho, E., Sloane, D. M., Kim, E.-Y., Kim, S., Choi, M., Yoo, I. Y., Lee, H. S., ... Aiken, L. H. (2015). Effects of nurse staffing, work environments, and education on patient mortality: An observational study. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 52, 2, 535-542.
Jiang, H., Li, C., Gu, Y., & Lu, H. (January 01, 2016). Nurse Satisfaction and Burnout in Shanghai Neurology Wards. Rehabilitation Nursing, 41, 2, 120-127.
Leigh, J. P., Markis, C. A., Iosif, A. M., & Romano, P. S. (2015). California's nurse-to-patient ratio law and occupational injury. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 88, 4, 477-84.
Leigh, P. J. (2015). Californias Nurse-to-Patient Ratio Law Reduced Nurse Injuries by More Than 30 Percent. Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved on July 16, 2017, from http://www.epi.org/blog/californias-nurse-to-patient-ratio-law-reduced-nurse-injuries-by-more-than-30-percent/
Neuraz, A., Payet, C., Polazzi, S., Schott, A.-M., Duclos, A., Neuraz, A., Guerin, C., ... Rimmele, T. (2015). Patient mortality is associated with staff resources and workload in the icu: A multicenter observational study. Critical Care Medicine, 43, 8, 1587-1594.
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