Healthcare employers in the Northeast are no doubt aware of the Massachusetts Nursing Association's recent efforts in support of a referendum that enforces minimum nurse-patient ratios. nurse patient ratiosThe Lowell Sun reports that the proposed legislation calls for 1 nurse for every 4 med/surg patients. In emergency departments, nurses would care for between 1 and 3 patients depending on patient conditions. Nurses in critical care units would look after between 1 and 2 patients. Healthcare employers in violation would face a $25,000 per day fine. Nursing Association advocates can look to many studies that show that reduced nurse-patient ratios improve patient outcomes. Still other studies, such as a 2004 Review in the Journal of Nursing Administration show that improved patient outcomes are based on a constellation of factors, including medical staff skills, hospital management, and patient mix, as well as nurse-to-patient ratios. A similar conclusion was drawn in this 2007 study determining that lower nurse-patient ratios correlated with improved patient outcomes -- although the relationship was not necessarily causal. While Massachusetts state lawmakers have been reluctant to order a solution to the bridge the gap between nurses and hospitals, the nurses association says voters have supported [+]

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