The Effect of Nursing Staff Levels on Patient Care

The Effect of Nursing Staff Levels on Patient Care

Proper medical care requires a team effort: doctors, nurses, nurse’s assistants, and others all come together in a hospital to ensure patients receive the attention they need.

Nurses in particular provide critical support, and they are often the ones who spend the most time with each individual patient.

Unfortunately, in the rush to maximize their bottom line, some hospitals have cut nursing staff levels to the bone.

This conduct has severe consequences for patients at those facilities.

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As covered last week in an Indypendent report, the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) is finally pushing back.

NYSNA is hoping that New York will become the second state to enact a “safe staffing level” law.

Not only are there often too few nurses in hospitals, but many on-duty nurses are overworked and tired.

With the appropriate nurse-to-patient ratio, fewer mistakes are made and patients are less likely to fall through the cracks.

As a New York medical malpractice lawyer who works closely with those affected by improper care, I understand that lives can be saved by demanding that medical facilities meet basic staffing requirements at all times.

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Lessons from California:

The state to emulate is California.

It is currently the only state with laws that expressly require proper nurse staffing levels at medical facilities.

Studies have shown that California’s safe staffing law has saved patient lives.

A 2010 study published in Health Services Research compared California to two states without a safe staffing law—New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

It found that New Jersey would have 14% fewer deaths and Pennsylvania would have 11% fewer deaths if they matched California’s nurse-to-patient ratio in surgical units.

Overall, the study found that in New Jersey and Pennsylvania alone 468 patients might have been saved over the two year period of the study—and that is just among general surgery patients.

Since the California law was signed, the state has increased the number of registered nurses by 110,000.

The study also showed that California nurses have more time to spend with their patients and miss fewer changes in their patient’s conditions.

There are also fewer patient complaints in California, and nurses in California are much less likely to report burnout on the job.

These are significant findings, and New York lawmakers should pay attention.

New Yorkers deserve the same high level of care and attention as Californians, and it’s high time something was done to address understaffing concerns.

Safe Staffing Levels Crucial for New York:

Advocates are taking the battle to Albany.  A safe nurse-to-patient ratio law is NYSNA’s top 2013 legislative priority.

Anne Bove, president of the NYSNA unit at Health and Hospitals Corp. in New York City said:

“This is a fight for the lives of our patients… We are nurses. We see it every day – Safe staffing saves lives.”

NYSNA is preparing for a public campaign to try to get New Yorkers to understand the problem and push for this new law.

The association’s thousands of members will need to be mobilized, allied organizations and local communities will need to be engaged, and work must begin to inform the public at large about the issue.

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About Anthony T. DiPietro

Founder Anthony T. DiPietro, Esq. is a compassionate and skilled trial attorney who has completely dedicated the past 23 years of his career to litigating medical malpractice and sexual abuse cases against major corporate institutions including hospitals, medical clinics, schools, and other wrongdoers.

Mr. DiPietro has also obtained some of New York State’s highest verdicts and settlements, and has been selected to New York State Super Lawyers® each year, for the past 10 years in a row.

In 2022, Mr. DiPietro was selected as one of America’s Top 100 High-Stakes Litigators for the landmark cases he’s won on behalf of survivors of sexual exploitation and abuse.

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All information discussed during our consultations always remains completely 100% confidential.

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