New Research Fuels Debate Over California Nurse Staffing Rules
California hospitals that were required to use more nurses after a 2004 law have not seen significant decreases in their number of patient falls and bed sores, according to the first study to examine the effect of nurse-to-patient ratios on care, the Sacramento Business Journal reports.
The study, conducted by the California Nursing Outcomes Coalition, compared data from more than 185 hospitals on staffing, falls and bed sores before and after the law took effect. The law, which was the first nationwide, requires minimum nurse-to-patient ratios for units in all general acute care hospitals.
Patricia McFarland, CEO of the Association of California Nurse Leaders and administrative manager of the coalition, said the study "should dispel some of the rhetoric" around the law.
However, the California Nurses Association, a labor union, said that the Association of California Nurse Leaders and the American Nurses Association/California, which paid for the study, have close ties to the hospital industry and that questions should be raised about their political motivations.
CNA spokesperson Chuck Idelson said, "It's a flawed study with cooked data."
Nancy Donaldson, co-author of the study, said, "Our findings are considered preliminary at this time."
Similarly, Linda Burnes Bolton, chief nursing officer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and co-author of the study, added that "further research is needed to closely examine numerous factors, including nursing unit data, organizational differences and characteristics of the work force" (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 3/24).