Over the years, the demands on nurse-to-patient ratio has been increasing and alarming in the United States. There are proposals to the US Congress to enact several legislations for mandatory, inpatient nurse-to-patient staffing ratios to improve the working conditions in hospitals. There is a growing concern that patients are affected and harmed due to the inadequacy of nurse staffing which has been linked to complexity of health care and severity of illnesses (Welton, 2007). Across the country, New York State has been among the states with severe shortage in nurses.
Not only is there a problem with nurse staff but also with poor and difficult working conditions and high rate of employee dissatisfaction. Nurses are forced to increase patient loads which leads to increased medical errors and acquired infections (Western New York Area Labor Federation, 2007). Due to the lack of proper regulation of nurse-to-patient ratio, patients as well as nurses suffer too. According from Western New York Area Labor Federation (WNYALF), staffing ratios is needed to reduce the shortage of nurses (2007).
In California, for example, after the implementation of nurse-to-patient ratios the number of licensed registered nurses (RNs) increased by more than 60, 000. Also, the number of new graduate and foreign trained nurses increased significantly after passing the nurse-to-patient ratios law. The benefits and the improvements are undeniable especially if there is proper regulation backed with legislation. On the contrary, many studies around the country revealed an alarming consequence of inadequate nurse-to-patient ratios.
In Pennsylvania, a study conducted among 168 hospitals revealed that there is greater chance for patients to die after undergoing surgery if the nurses have to take care of many patients. According from The Journal of the American Medical Association, there is a 7 percent probability that a patient will die within 30 days of admission if the workload if a nurse is high (The New York Times, 2002). More and more studies are agreeing that increased nurse-to-patient ratio has a damaging effects on the patients across the country and New York State should act immediately to prevent the worst scenario.