Did you read it: Nurses cheer as votes support increased staffing

Flickr | Ted Eytan
Flickr | Ted Eytan

Nurses have been saying it all along: adequate hospital staffing is the key to excellent care. And get this—according to a recent poll, they’re not alone.

That’s right—though voters may not be familiar with all the particulars, like shift work disorder or compassion fatigue, they are well aware that short-staffing nurses is risky business, and when it comes to promoting a more reasonable patient load, they aren’t willing to cut corners.

In short, all those red flags nurses are hoisting into the air are not going unnoticed, and voters are lending their voices to the call for change:

A poll by the state’s largest nurses union found 73 percent of voters support a law setting a maximum number of patients each nurse could be required to care for. The union, which is advocating for legislation to increase nurse staffing levels at hospitals and in other health care settings, commissioned the poll and released its results Thursday.

Mandating higher nurse staffing levels would significantly raise health care costs, according to the opponents of the bill, S1183, which is sponsored by state Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Woodbridge), chair of the Senate health committee. The legislation would set nurse-to-patient standards for each hospital unit, with nurse input, allowing flexibility to increase staffing based on patient needs.

“Nurses know unsafe staffing levels will put quality health care at risk, and it turns out patients know that, too,” said Ann Twomey, president of the Health Professionals and Allied Employees union, which commissioned the survey conducted by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research.

“That’s why we are fighting for a safe staffing law, so every patient gets the care they need, when they need it,” she said “The best formula for patient safety is pretty simple — listen to your nurses,” Twomey said.

The bill is opposed by the New Jersey Hospital Association, which estimates it would require the state’s acute care hospitals to hire 2,054 additional registered nurses, at an annual cost of $159 million.

So, just what exactly does this bill have to offer?

The bill would require one registered professional nurse for every six patients on a medical/surgical unit for the first year after the regulations are adopted, and one nurse for every five patients thereafter. And it would set specific nurse/patient ratios in a number of clinical areas, such a trauma units, surgery and maternity. 

Not bad…

Interested in reading the full article? Find it here, and please share your thoughts on these findings with us in the comments section below!


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6 Responses to Did you read it: Nurses cheer as votes support increased staffing

  1. Kristina Hilliard

    Hi I see this article is about registered nurses what about certified nursing assistants. I have been in the medical field since 1998 I have worked as certified nursing assistant in 3 different states so my comment is….What about us we are the ones providing most of the care besides medication and treatments. We are the ones that are under staffed. The Most not all of the places I have worked the registered nurses and licensed vocational nurses don’t want to help but yet we are to be a team. For the most part I don’t see the registered nurses doing much except paperwork and they have yo ask us about patients for them to do there work. I am talking about nursing homes, and long-term care facilities. when things don’t get done we take the blunt of everything. It is our faults but yet we get no recognition for what we do. Staying late or going that extra mile for our patients. Just wandering.

  2. SMCare

    I am speaking out for us long term care and hospice nurse. Why is legislation not striving to put more nurses to patient ratios in this are. In a Nursing Home facility you have a 60+ patient to 1 Nurse ratio and 60+ patient to 2 CNA ratio. Please someone tell me how this is quality care? You talk about over stress, over fatigued mentally and physically, and easily emotionally taken is this on a Nurse. I Love what I do and I love giving every second I can to listening, answering and caring for each individual person, however one Nurse doesn’t have the time in 8 hours to give 60+ patients that kind of care. This area deserves more nurse’s to patients.

  3. cna123

    What about patient ratio for the nursing assistants we are under paid over work trying to take care of twelve or more patients while working a twelve hour shift it is almost impossible to give the care these patient need

  4. Micki Jacobson

    I think this is great. However, every thing I read about nurse staffing units always has the ratio of nurses to patients on the med/surg units versus specialty units higher. I have been a nurse for 17 years and the acuity level of the med/surg patient has changed tremendously. They have become much more acute. In addition, we having multiple tubes to maintain and frequent iv push pain medications, sometimes every hour. Fifteen years ago, taking 6 patients was doable. With the higher acuity today, I feel, 6 patients is still too heavy of a load for the nurse to give each patient the care they deserve, especially with the reimbursement based on patient satisfaction. Caring for six patients leaves very little time to give the patient an experience that they feel we have taken care of their “whole” self, not only providing the technical and medical care but also providing the education needed and emotional support.

    • Brandy Lebarron

      I agree with you Micki. Med-surg patients are more acute now than they used to be. Staffing should take that into account. I personally believe that 1 nurse to 4-5 patients max. That allows for less stress, more nurse pt interaction, increased pt safety, and the ability to help out the staff as a team member rather than being so stressed out that there is no room for helping out.

  5. Jessica Ellis

    The way I look at it is that the New Jersey hospitals are 2000+ nurses SHORT right now. It may cost them to hire more nurses, sure…but it will cost them even more when their patient satisfaction ratings are in the toilet, if they aren’t already.