Nurse-Patient Ratios – Care Example

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"Nurse-Patient Ratios" is a wonderful example of a paper on care. The National Nursing Shortage Reform and Patient Advocacy Act seeks to establish requirements for acute-care facilities to provide nursing staff based on the number of patients. This ensures that a minimum nurse-patient ratio is met at all times, thus, improving the standards of healthcare. This paper will discuss nurse-patient ratios and how they affect nursing. Nurse-patient ratios are not a new issue in the American health care scene. For about 20 years now, it has been reported that there are not enough nurses to provide quality care to all patients (Aiken et al. , 2012).

Over the years, research conducted to ascertain if a connection exists between better healthcare and improved nursing ratios is evident. One such study was the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) research in 1993, which focused on the adequacy of nurse staffing in hospitals and nursing homes. In their report, the IOM found that there was insufficient evidence to support specified staff ratios in hospitals. The study, however, calls for further research (Aiken et al. , 2012). More recently, nurse-patient ratios have been found to be critical to improved healthcare.

This, coupled with the fact that nurses continue to be in short supply, adds to the difficulty faced by many healthcare institutions. It was noted in the article Nurse-to-Patient Ratios: Research and Reality conference (2005), that, as the population as a whole continues to grow older, the demand for nurses will surely increase. This has led to legislation in favor of balancing nurse-patient ratios. According to Aieken et al. (2012), the state of California is the only one to pass minimum nurse employment requirements. According to the California Nursing Association (2012), improved nurse-patient ratios reduce mortality among patients.

In a study on the implications of nurse staffing in California, Aieken et al. (2012) pointed out that evidence of the positive effects of good nurse staffing can be found through comparing better staffed and poorly staffed hospitals. These comparisons, alongside the likelihood that the patient undergoing treatment is discharged, show that adequate staffing has a positive impact. This is perhaps the most significant impact of good nurse-patient ratios. Nurses can also avail more time to spend with their patients as a result of balanced nurse-patient ratios.

This has a positive impact on the quality of healthcare provided by these nurses. In this environment, the registered nurses can focus their care and attention on the recommended number of patients, thus, ensuring they get access to the best care. Good nurse-patient ratios encourage staff retention among nurses (Aiken et al. , 2012). This can be attributed to the reduced workload and stress of having to deal with too many patients. The Nurse-to-Patient Ratios: Research and Reality conference (2005) suggested that a series of research studies over the last several years unequivocally showed that many nurses are not satisfied with their work conditions and are more likely to quit because of this dissatisfaction. Aieken et al.

(2012) found in their study that nurses who experienced workload in tandem with California-mandated ratios had less job dissatisfaction and burnout levels. Furthermore, it is less likely that nurses will complain about poor working conditions and, hence, leave their jobs. Therefore, it shows that nurse-patient ratios affect nursing.

References

Aiken, L. H., Sloane, D. M., Cimiotti, J. P., Clarke, S. P., Flynn, L., Seago J. A., Spetz, J., & Smith, H. L. (2012). Implications of the California nurse staffing mandate for other states. United States: Health Research and Educational Trust.

California Nurses Association. (2012). The evidence is in: Rn-to-patient ratios save lives. Retrieved from http://www.nationalnursesunited.org/issues/entry/ratios

New England Public Policy Center and the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum. (2005). Nurse-to-patient ratios: research and reality. Boston: New England Public Policy Center.

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