California Study Shows Nurse/Patient Ratios May Not Significantly Impact Outcomes for Patients

Studying the impact of nurse/patient ratios on the quality of hospital care

Researchers at the University of Maryland studied the impact of nursing staff levels on patient outcomes in California hospitals for the period 1996 and 2000. The study provided information about the merit of the mandated minimum nurse/patient ratios in California law AB 394.

Researchers used hospital admissions for the two days after patient admission as a proxy for nurse staffing levels.

Key Findings

  • Large surges in hospital admissions tend to reduce patient length of stay, although very minimally.

  • Large surges in hospital admissions tend to increase the chance of patient re-admission, although very minimally.

  • Large surges in hospital admissions have a small and not statistically significant impact on the death rate of patients.

Key Conclusion

  • The portion of California law AB 394 designed to guarantee adequate nurse staffing when patient admissions increase unexpectedly should have little impact on patient outcomes.

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