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California Study Offers New Perspective on Relationship Between Staffing Ratios and Patient Safety
Date:3/12/2008

Study Sponsor a Recipient of American Academy of Nursing Award for

Innovation in Healthcare Research

SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 12 /PRNewswire/ -- A study of the potential impact of state mandated nurse-to-patient staffing ratios in California hospitals revealed little impact on patient outcomes in two critical areas of patient care. The findings were published in the March 2008 issue of Policy, Politics & Nursing Practice, a peer-reviewed journal that explores the multiple relationships between nursing and health policy. However, the study's researchers caution the results are far from conclusive in scientifically determining the required number of staff to provide quality care.

"Mandated alterations in the volume of direct-care staff alone have not resulted in expected reductions in the incidence of patient falls or the prevalence of pressure ulcers. Instead, we have found there are many variables we do not yet fully understand. As previous studies have suggested, further research is needed to closely examine numerous factors, including nursing unit data, organizational differences and characteristics of the workforce," said Linda Burnes Bolton, Dr.P.H., R.N. FAAN, vice president and chief nursing officer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and co-author of the study.

The findings are significant on a national level in that California serves as a bellwether in being the first state to enact legislation in 1999 mandating licensed nurse-to-patient ratios in acute-care hospitals. Ratios were phased in gradually based on the type and intensity of care. For instance, hospital medical and surgical units now have a ratio of one nurse to five patients; in 2004, the ratio stood at one to six. The study of pre- and post-regulation outcomes was conducted by the California Nursing Outcomes Coalition (CalNOC). Acute care facilities report nursing quality data to the coalition which was recently honored with a prestigious American A
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SOURCE CalNOC
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