Ratios deliver more RNs for California

Nurse-to-patient ratios have added more registered nurses to the staffing mix in Californian hospitals compared to similar hospitals in other parts of the United States.

This is revealed in research by the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.

‘California’s state mandated nurse staffing ratios have been shown to be successful in terms of increasing registered nurse staffing. From a policy perspective, this should be useful information to the states currently debating legislation on nurse-to-patient ratios,’ wrote lead researcher and nursing professor Matthew McHugh in the current issue of the policy journal Health Affairs.

California was the first US state to legislate nurse staffing levels. Now Massachusetts is considering enacting similar legislation. California, the researchers wrote, experienced a more serious nurse shortage than other areas of the country but made up the gap by hiring ‘travel nurses’ – temporary RNs who move from hospital to hospital as needed.

‘Our findings demonstrate that the nurse-to-patient ratio mandate in California was effective in increasing registered nurse staffing in hospitals,’ wrote Dr McHugh.