Monday, May 11, 2015

Higher Nurse-to-Patient Ratio Law Improves Nurse Injury Rates by One-Third

Research published in in the May 2015 issue of the International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health suggests that higher nurse-to-patient ratios in hospitals might reduce nurse injury rates by one-third. A 2004 California law mandating minimal nurse-to-patient ratios prompted the research. While specific ratios vary according to context, the standard is approximately 1 nurse for every 5 patients.

“We found that the law was associated with 55.57 fewer occupational injuries and illnesses per 10,000 registered nurses per year, a value 32% lower than the expected rate without the law, based on injury and illness rates before the law was enacted. The corresponding estimated reduction in injury and illness rates for licensed practical nurses was 38%,” writes study author Paul Leigh, Ph.D.

While additional research is needed, the authors of the study hypothesize that improved staffing rations could reduce back and shoulder injuries and needlesticks, among other hazards.