Does mandating nurse patient ratios improve care

There are ways to deliver very high-quality care with relatively lean staffing levels," Brookshire said.

Under the proposal, hospitals would have to send their implementation plans to the commission, ensuring that it will not reduce its workforce as a result of the new mandate.

No, says Joan Vitello-Cicciu, associate chief nurse in management at Brigham and Women’s Hospital."You should be monitoring us for the quality of our care, not a fixed number," she said.

Vitello-Cicciu told legislators during Monday's hearing that the hospital could not have responded as well as it did to the flood of Boston Marathon bombing patients without pulling nurses from many units, upsetting ratios.

Coughlin pointed to one study in particular, "which found that every additional patient assigned to a nurse over four resulted in a 7 percent increase in the risk of death for all the patients under that nurses care."But this research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, also says it’s not clear exactly how many patients a nurse can care for, but five or six would be wise.This question is back before state lawmakers in this session but this year it may also be on the election ballot.Massachusetts Nurses Association members pile copies of studies in front of legislators at a State House hearing Monday.Patrick Muldoon, the CEO at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, is one of many hospital administrators looking at how much the fixed ratios would cost."Breaks, lunches, change of shifts, we have to meet those ratios," he said."Every floor, all the time or we’re subject to penalty.

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