MANDATED STAFFING RATIOS DOESN’T AFFECT PATIENT OUTCOMES STUDY FINDS
Mandated staffing ratio is a hot issue that has been a legal battle in Massachusetts, particularly.
In 2014, Massachusetts passed a law requiring 1-to-1 or 2-to-1 patient-to-nurse staffing ratios in intensive care units guided by a tool accounting patient acuity and anticipated care intensity.
Proponents of the initiative say it would improve patient safety while opponents say it would be too costly for the healthcare system to support.
As the issue goes burning, new research by physician-researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center finds Massachusetts’ previous regulations concerning nurse-to-patient staffing ratios in intensive care units not associated with improvements in patient outcomes.
“We hypothesized that Massachusetts ICU nurse staffing regulations would result in decreased complications and mortality for critically ill patients when compared with patients admitted to ICUs across the country unaffected by Massachusetts regulations,” lead author Anica C. Law, MD, core faculty at the Center for Healthcare Delivery Science and staff physician in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine at BIDMC, says in a news release. “But we did not identify improvements in patient outcomes associated with the state’s nursing requirements.”
Under the study, researchers examined records from 246 medical centers across US and compared patient outcomes in Massachusetts’ six academic ICUs with outcomes in 114 out-of-state academic ICUs before, during, and after the state mandate was implemented.
Before and after the mandate’s implementation, researchers found modest increases in ICU nurse staffing ratios—a change from 1.38 patients per nurse to 1.28 patients per nurse.
These increases were not significantly higher than staffing trends in states without state-mandated ICU staffing regulations. According to the researchers, this suggests nurse staffing increases in Massachusetts could not be attributed to the state legislation.
Furthermore, risk of mortality and risk of complications in Massachusetts’ ICUs remained stable after the law’s implementation, with no significant difference in trends compared to out-of-state hospitals.
“Our results suggest that the Massachusetts nursing regulations were not associated with changes in staffing or patient outcomes,” Law says. “The modest changes in nurse staffing we saw in Massachusetts – approximately one extra nurse per 20-bed ICU per 12-hour shift – remained unassociated with changes in hospital mortality.”
However, some research reported various findings regarding nurse-to-patient ratios.
No matter what’s the outcome concerning mandated staffing ratios, Erudite Nursing Institute™ encourages nurse researchers to widen and deepen the aspect of this issue providing a clear study about its pros and cons.
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