Nurses have an integral role in the healthcare system. State-mandated safe-staffing ratios are necessary to ensure the safety of patients and nurses. Adequate nurse staffing is key to patient care and nurse retention, while inadequate staffing endangers patients and drives nurses from their profession.
The nursing research supports the notion that inadequate nurse staffing levels by experienced RNs are linked to higher rates of patient falls, infections, medication errors and even death. Additionally, the research shows that a result of massive reductions in nursing budgets, combined with the challenges presented by a growing nursing shortage, is that fewer nurses work longer hours and care for sicker patients. This situation compromises care and contributes to the nursing shortage by creating an environment that drives nurses from the bedside. NYSNA nurses are promoting legislation to hold hospitals accountable for the development and implementation of valid, reliable, unit-by-unit nurse staffing plans.
While staffing-related laws, regulations, guidelines, and standards currently exist in NYS, NYSNA believes these laws and guidelines are inadequate for safe staffing. Nevertheless, NYSNA has compiled these laws and guidelines into a book to make it easier for nurses to be informed about current staffing-related information.
The issue of safe staffing and nurse-patient ratios is not going away. Staying informed, getting involved, and sharing your professional opinion and experience are crucial keys to feeling empowered.