September 27, 2022

Study: Is nurse staffing legislation needed in New York?

By: Judy Mathias

Editor's Note

This study by nurse researcher Linda Aiken, PhD, RN, FAAN, and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Philadelphia, finds that the Safe Staffing for Quality Act under consideration by the New York state assembly would save lives, shorten hospital stays, reduce readmissions, and lower costs.

The analysis included data on 417,861 Medicare medical and surgical patients in 116 acute care general hospitals in New York collected between December 16, 2019, and February 24, 2020. Hospital staffing ranged from 4.3 to 10.5 patients per nurse.

After adjusting for potential confounders, the researchers found that each additional patient per nurse for surgical and medical patients, respectively, was associated with:

  • higher odds of in-hospital mortality (odds ratio [OR] 1.13; OR 1.13)
  • longer lengths of stay (incidence rate ratio 1.09; incidence rate ratio 1.05)
  • higher odds of 30-day readmissions (OR 1.08; OR 1.06).

If hospitals were staffed at the 4:1 patient to nurse ratio proposed in the legislation, the researchers estimate that 4,370 lives and $720 million would be saved over the 2-year study period.

This study provides much needed evidence about the need in New York for mandated safe nurse staffing legislation, the researchers say.

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