Proposition for Safe Patient/Nurse Ratios

What is the ideal number?

Recent weeks and months have seen nurses attempt to unionize and in some cases walk off the job due to concerns over numerous staffing-related issues. One of the greatest points of contention is the often-unsafe ratio between patients and nurses.

What is the ideal ratio of patients to nurses? In 2004, California became the first state to establish a “safe staffing ratio” when it was decreed that most units would have a ratio of one nurses for every five patients. Within the ICU, the ratio was 1:2. The legislation was sponsored by the California Nurses Association.

This is the gold standard by which current leadership is attempting to establish a national protocol for such safe ratios. S. 1063 is the Senate bill sponsored by Sherrod Brown (D-OH) that would establish requirements for acute-care facilities to assure that minimum ratios are maintained at all times.

H.R. 2392 is sponsored by Janice Schakowsky (D-IL) acts similarly in attempting to establish minimum ratios in the name of safety.

Both bills are currently in committees, awaiting recommendations and revisal.

“The bills are modeled on California’s nurse-to-patient ratios law, fought for and won by the California Nurses Association/NNU,” reads an item on the National Nurses United website. “We will never stop fighting for our patients.”

About The Author