RNs, LVNs and Staffing Ratios

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RNs, LVNs and Staffing Ratios

The skill level at hospitals stays high

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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California was the first state to pass mandatory nurse ratios; but since the nursing shortage was so profound, legislators included the use of licensed vocational nurses in the implementation of staffing regulations. Many feared that hospitals would hire LVNs to take the place of registered nurses to meet the requirements of the law. Instead, California hospitals made up for the gap caused by the shortage and the mandates by using “travel nurses” or nurses who move from facility to facility on a temporary basis.

Another Benefit of Ratios

In a comprehensive study of staffing ratios comparing select California hospitals with similar hospitals nationwide over the past years, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Arizona State University have found that, contrary to predictions, the staffing with RNs increased.

The study looked at hospitals from 1997 to 2008. Researchers found also that the ratios led to a half hour of additional nursing care per adjusted patient day beyond what would have been expected from non-mandated levels of staffing. In California the number of hours of nursing care rose from 6.44 hours in 2004 to 7.11 in 2008.

From a policy perspective, the results should help states like Massachusetts that are in the midst of debate on the efficacy of mandated staffing ratios. For a look at the complete study, click here.

This article is from workingnurse.com.

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