Staffing Improves at Hospitals Following Implementation of Nurse-to-Patient Ratios, Union Survey Finds
One month after new nurse-to-patient ratios took effect, registered nurses are reporting improvements in staffing conditions at California hospitals, according to a survey by the California Nurses Association, the Oakland Tribune reports (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 2/5). Under the new staffing rules, nurses will not have to care for more than eight patients at a time. The rules also call for one nurse per five patients in medical-surgical units by 2005, as well as one nurse per four patients in specialty care and telemetry units and one nurse per three patients in step-down units by 2008. In addition, the regulations state that licensed vocational nurses can comprise no more than 50% of the licensed nurses assigned to patient care and that only registered nurses can care for critical trauma patients. The rules also require at least one registered nurse to serve as a triage nurse in emergency departments (California Healthline, 1/15). The survey was based on interviews with RNs at 111 general acute care hospitals -- nearly 30% of the total in the state -- and found that 59% were in compliance with the ratios (Oakland Tribune, 2/5). The survey also found that staffing conditions had improved at 68% of hospitals surveyed since the rules took effect (CNA release, 2/4). CNA praised Kaiser Permanente and the University of California Medical Centers for their efforts to meet the new standards (Oakland Tribune, 2/5).
KPCC's "Air Talk" Thursday interviewed Jill Furillo, southern California director of the CNA, and Jim Lott, executive vice president of the Healthcare Association of Southern California, about the ratios (Mantle, "Air Talk," KPCC, 2/5). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer. In addition, KPCC's "KPCC News" Thursday reported on the ratios. The segment includes comments from California Healthcare Association spokesperson Jan Emerson; Furillo; Mary Dee Hacker, vice president of patient care services and Chief Nursing Officer at Children's Hospital Los Angeles; Gina Henning, a registered nurse in the Licensing and Certification Division of the Department of Health Services; Gerald Kominski, associate director of the University of California-Los Angeles' Center for Health Policy Research; and Dr. Thomas Garthwaite, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (Rabe, "KPCC News," KPCC, 2/5). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.