Proposition for Safe Patient/Nurse Ratios

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What is the ideal number?

Recent weeks and months have seen nurses attempt to unionize and in some cases walk off the job due to concerns over numerous staffing-related issues. One of the greatest points of contention is the often-unsafe ratio between patients and nurses.

What is the ideal ratio of patients to nurses? In 2004, California became the first state to establish a “safe staffing ratio” when it was decreed that most units would have a ratio of one nurses for every five patients. Within the ICU, the ratio was 1:2. The legislation was sponsored by the California Nurses Association.

This is the gold standard by which current leadership is attempting to establish a national protocol for such safe ratios. S. 1063 is the Senate bill sponsored by Sherrod Brown (D-OH) that would establish requirements for acute-care facilities to assure that minimum ratios are maintained at all times.

H.R. 2392 is sponsored by Janice Schakowsky (D-IL) acts similarly in attempting to establish minimum ratios in the name of safety.

Both bills are currently in committees, awaiting recommendations and revisal.

“The bills are modeled on California’s nurse-to-patient ratios law, fought for and won by the California Nurses Association/NNU,” reads an item on the National Nurses United website. “We will never stop fighting for our patients.”

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Rob Senior
Rob Senior

Rob has 15 years of experience writing and editing for healthcare. He previously worked for ADVANCE from 2002 to 2012.

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