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Nursing Homes Abuse Blog By Jonathan Rosenfeld

Less Patients, Happier Staff, Healthier Patients. Research Shows Less May Acutally Be More When It Comes To Patient Loads For Nurses

Posted in Nursing Home Staff

Without proper staffing, even the most modern nursing homes are nothing more than buildings with beds.  Knowledgeable and plentiful staff has always appeared to improve patient morale, but a new study determines that added staff may actually save lives.

The Journal of Health Services Research compared the outcomes from 1.1 million people who had general surgical procedures performed at more than 800 hospitals in California, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Of the three states, patients in California fared the best.

It’s not just the warm weather in California that improved the heath of surgical patients.  Turns out, the patients in California tended to receive more attention from nurses than the patients in other states. Nurses in California medical-surgical units are limited to caring for 5 patients at a time compared with similar facilities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania where nursing loads tended to be more than 6 patients.

When analyzing death rates of surgical patients, researchers concluded that the California regulations would have improved the survival rates of patients.

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

In addition to the improved patient survival rates associated with the limited number of patients, the study also reported that California nurses had higher rates of jobs satisfaction and were more likely to remain in the profession.

Staffing & Nursing Home Care

In an age whee we see nurses caring for upwards of 20 patients during a shift.  Yes, more than 20! I doubt we’re going to see nursing home chains rushing to implement 5:1 patient staffing ratios anytime soon.  However, this study is important for that fact that once again we see that staffing levels are extremely important to patient safety and well being. 

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