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Globe Op Ed: Critical Care -- A lower nurse-to-patient ratio results in significantly fewer patient deaths and less professional burnout

Boston Globe Op Ed

Critical care

By Suzanne Gordon  |  August 5, 2010

FOR OVER a decade now, nurses in Massachusetts and other states have been warning that both the state and federal government need to pass laws to regulate hospital nursing workloads in order to protect patients and the public. For RNs everywhere, the model is the one-of-a-kind ratios law, originally passed in California in 1999 and finally implemented, over the objections of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, six years ago.

Industry groups like the Massachusetts Hospital Association claim that California’s new staffing levels have not helped patients and, thus, other states shouldn’t embrace this same “inflexible’’ legislative approach. Despite plenty of research showing that hospital staffing patterns do affect patient mortality and the quality of care, hospital managers continue to insist that workload adjustments should be left up to them. Their lobbying message, like corporate America’s, is always the same: “ Trust us and we’ll look out for you — without new regulation.’’

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