Nurse-to-Patient Ratios – Coursework Example

Nurse-To-Patient Ratios Nursing leaders are in a good position to determine the real staff needed by the patient population they are offering services to. In 1999, the State of California mandated the minimum nurse-to-patient ratios within hospitals; it was the first state to take such an initiative. The legislation Assembly Bill 394, mandated the “minimum nurse-to-patient ratios in acute care hospitals” (Coffman, Seago and Spetz, 2002). In spite of this move, nurse-to-patient ratios are not supposed to be federally mandated going by the arguments that follow.
There are three main reasons why the state should not mandate the nurse-to-patient ratios. First, California is faced with a nursing shortage and thus they cannot meet the minimum staffing ratios. Union leaders in this respect assert that the supply of Registered Nurses will only increase when the working conditions and the staffing ratios improve in the hospitals (Coffman et al., 2000). Furthermore, the hospitals in California are faced with huge financial difficulties and the projections for improvement are not promising. The hospitals are also experiencing a lot of pressure due to the development of managed care insurance plans. This has forced them to minimize their costs, majority of them complaining that the reimbursements are so low to an extent that they cannot afford to cater for the cost of care. Other than the decline in revenues, the hospitals are also faced with a number of expensive state and federal mandates (Coffman et al., 2000) which makes meeting the minimum nurse-to-patient ratio becomes an uphill task.
Despite the enactment of the nurse-to-patient ratios legislation in California, hospitals and nursing leaders are in a better position to determine the actual staffing required in their health care facilities. Although the legislation was enacted with the patient in mind, there are a lot of challenges that hospitals face that makes the legislation quite impractical. Three of the main issues that affect hospitals include inadequate revenues to cater for bills, inadequate Registered Nurses and numerous requirements relating to the enactment of the bill. Hospital management are better positioned to motivate the few staff that they have so as to provide quality care in spite of the inadequate resources that they have. Furthermore, they have the statistics of patients that visit the hospital and can make better decisions regarding the number of staff that they need to service then needs of the community.
Coffman, J. M., Seago, J. A. & Spetz, J. (2002). Minimum nurse-to-patient ratios in acute care hospitals in California. Health Affairs, 21(5), 53-64.
Coffman, J., O’Neil, E., Rosenoff, E., Seago, J. A. & Spetz, J. (2000). Minimum nurse staffing requirements in California acute care hospitals. Oakland, CA: California Healthcare Foundation.