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News, Studies and Information Affecting Nurses, April 20–May 23

By Beth Duggan
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Mandated Nurse-Patient Ratios in California Show Positive Results

According to a study published in Health Services Research, the nurse-patio ratios mandated in California in 2004 have resulted in a decline in mortality rates among adjusted 30-day inpatients and a rise in job satisfaction for nurses.

Linda Aiken, director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, spearheaded the study, which compared patient outcome data and staffing information at hospitals in California, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

In addition, 22,236 nurses in these states were surveyed to assess and compare the level of job satisfaction and the quality of care they felt they were able to give to their patients. The results showed that California nurses reported higher marks on both counts than nurses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Institute of Nursing Research, this study is the first to assess the effects of the California nurse-patio ratio, which requires that nurses must provide care for no more than six patients in a psychiatric unit; five patients in a medical-surgical unit; four patients in a pediatric unit; three patients in a labor and delivery unit; and two patients in an ICU unit.


Nurse Practitioners Might See Expansion of Duties in 28 States

According to the AP/Baltimore Sun, 28 states are responding to the shortage of primary care physicians by contemplating giving more duties to licensed nurse practitioners.

The current duties of NPs vary significantly state by state. For example, NPs aren’t allowed to prescribe controlled substances in Florida and Alabama; in Washington, NPs can recommend medical marijuana to patient when a new law goes into effect in June; in Montana, doctors aren’t involved with an NP’s practice; and while most states allow it, there are some that don’t let NPs with a doctorate in nursing to use the title “Dr.”

The American Medical Association is digging its heels in, however, stating that a shortage of doctors doesn’t justify putting nurses in charge. In addition, it argues that the title “Dr.” creates confusion.

All of this comes on the heels of the new health reform law, which would allocate $50 million to nurse-managed health clinics that provide primary care to low-income patients; set aside $50 million each year from 2012 to 2015 for hospitals to train nurses with advanced degrees on how to care for patients benefitting from Medicare; raise Medicare reimbursement for nurse-midwives to the level of physicians; and provide a bonus of 10 percent to primary care providers, which includes NPs, who practice in areas with a low number of physicians.


California Considers a Soda Tax to Fight Childhood Obesity

On Tuesday, April 20, a joint hearing of the Senate Food and Agriculture and the Senate Health Committee commenced to examine the role, sugar-sweetened drinks have played in the ever-increasing rate of diabetes and obesity in the state, particularly among children.

Senator Elaine Alquist (D-San Jose), who is chaired the hearing, planned to discuss ways California could make up some of the $41 billion in health care costs and diseases encountered by the state each year. Included in that discussion was Senate Bill 1210, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez (D-Shafter), who also chaired the hearing, which proposes a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages of one penny per teaspoon of added sugar in order to fund childhood obesity prevention programs.

According to the Roseville Press-Tribune, Americans have upped their daily calorie intake by 300 calories over the past 30 years, with almost half of those calories coming from these kinds of beverages. The story when on to state that every 20 ounces of soda contains three times the amount of daily sugar intake considered “healthy” for an adult, and that the rate of diabetes in California is now at one in 13 people.

Attendees of the hearing included medical professionals, representatives of the soda industry, community health advocates and marketing experts.   

Beth Duggan is the editor of Working Nurse.  

This article is from workingnurse.com.

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