November 19, 2018

TNAA’s VP of Clinical Services Talks Nurse-Patient Ratios

This week, we are thrilled to have a post from our VP of Clinical Services, Jill Eliassen. Jill and her team provide clinical support to client facilities and travel nurses throughout assignments to create a successful temporary staffing experience for both. Working with many of TNAA’s internal departments, the clinical department is involved in every step of an assignment’s creation and placement, ensuring that each one meets the needs of the facilities and the nurses’ goals. After receiving her nursing degree in 1998, Jill spent 12 years working in multiple acute care settings. She has been in the travel nursing industry since 2011 and serves as a member of the NATHO Clinical Executive Council.

If you’ve been in the healthcare industry for long, chances are you’ve heard about nurse-patient ratios and safe staffing best practices. There is a bill in both the House and the Senate to help enforce the best safe staffing ratios to improve patient outcomes and help nurses be the best advocates for their patients.

So far, California has been the only state to adopt legislation that sets safety limits on the number of patients each nurse can care for, and the current bills in the House and Senate are modeled under this legislation. Many states are hesitant to enact the legislation because they fear they won’t have enough staff to fill units with nurses caring for fewer patients at a time.

California adopted safe nurse-to-patient ratios in 2004 after working to push it through for 13 years. What have they seen?

  • An influx of nurses eager to work in a clinical environment with safe staffing ratios.
  • Less nurse burnout. Traditionally, one out of three nurses leave by the end of their second year because of burnout. It costs approximately $90,000 for a hospital to replace one nurse, and with the nursing shortage only climbing, we can’t afford to lose more nurses.
  • A decrease in patient mortality and improved HCAHPS scores
  • A decrease in patient medication errors

So, why hasn’t every state enacted safe staffing ratios best practices? The bills are sitting inactive because not enough action has been taken. The Patient Advocacy Coalition for Safe RN Staffing Ratios believes that nurses and patients everywhere should demand guaranteed safe nurse-patient ratios.

Nurses and patients everywhere in America need to speak up and join the growing movement to win safe staffing ratios. National Nurses United (NNU), the nation’s largest RN organization, has sponsored state and federal ratio legislation. You can join the movement and by signing the online petition, writing a letter to Congress, volunteering to be an advocate, and more here!