Lighter Load for Nurses May Aid Patients


SAUSALITO, CA (ASRN.ORG) -- A state law in California requires hospitals to maintain certain minimal levels of nurses on duty. Now a study suggests that the requirement may be saving lives.

A recent study compared the outcomes of 1.1 million general surgery patients in 2005-6 in more than 800 hospitals in three states — California, where nurses in medical-surgical units are limited to five patients at a time; and New Jersey and Pennsylvania, where nurses’ patient loads averaged more than six.

Researchers concluded that 225 hospital deaths in New Jersey, or 13.9 percent of all deaths in general surgery, and 200 deaths in Pennsylvania, or 10.6 percent, could have been averted with rules similar to California’s.

The lead author, Linda H. Aiken, a registered nurse, acknowledged that the analysis did not prove that the California rules improved patients’ outcomes. But she said it was the most likely explanation.

“Nurses are the surveillance system right at the bedside; they are the first to see something and mobilize a rescue,” said Dr. Aiken, professor of nursing and director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at University of Pennsylvania.

The researchers also surveyed more than 22,000 nurses and reported that those in California were less likely than nurses in the other states to say they were dissatisfied with their job or planned to leave the profession.



Copyright 2012- American Society of Registered Nurses (ASRN.ORG)-All Rights Reserved


Articles in this issue:


  • Masthead

    Editor-in Chief:
    Kirsten Nicole

    Editorial Staff:
    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Robyn Bowman
    Kimberly McNabb
    Lisa Gordon
    Stephanie Robinson

    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Liz Di Bernardo
    Cris Lobato
    Elisa Howard
    Susan Cramer

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