Oregon became the first state in the US to pass a law mandating a minimum nurse to patient ratio in its hospitals. The law would impose the following ratios: a 1-to-1 nurse to patient ratio for trauma patients in the emergency room, a 1-to -2 nurse to patient ratio in the ICU’s, and a 1-to-4 nurse to patient ratio on med-surg units.
These ratios will be applied to coverage during breaks as well. This would ensure that nurses will not be overwhelmed while covering for their peers. Ratios will also be applied to the Certified Nursing Assistants. For example, CNAs will not exceed caring for more than 7 patients during the day and no more than 11 patients at night.
In addition to these measures, hospitals would also be required to establish staffing committees comprised of various healthcare professionals to help provide safe staffing plans, by the end of next year. Hospitals will have until September to comply with the limits imposed for CNAs. The ratios imposed for nurses will commence by next June.
Hospitals that violate the law could face a penalty of $5,000 per offense.
California’s health authority has its own regulations for staffing ratios. New York and Massachusetts requirements are applicable to certain hospital wings only. Oregon is the first state to have legislation passed.
What do you think of this new law? Do you think it will be beneficial to the nurses and patients? Do you think more states will follow suit?