What Proponents Of Nursing Patient Ratios Argue

The state of California has a law that governs nursing patient ratios. The law limits the number of patients that can be assigned to a registered nurse. Registered nurses in California have a huge advantage over many other states, proponents of the law claim. Governing nursing patient ratios protects both the patient and the nurse. Hospital administrators lobbied vigorously against the law because they claimed it cut into their profits.

Here’s the primary problem with NOT having a law mandating nursing patient ratios, say those who favor such measures: If a registered nurse takes on an assignment with too many patients and something happens to one of those patients because the nurse failed to provide them with proper care…it’s considered to be the fault of the nurse in many cases. Here is what the Board of Nursing has to say about a nurse’s legal responsibilities: “Standard 217.11(1)(T) holds the nurse accountable to accept only those assignments that are within the nurse’s education/training/experience, as well as his/her physical and emotional ability. If a licensed nurse accepts an assignment, he/she is responsible for the care delivered.”

If the nurse doesn’t take on the assignments given, how long do you think the nurse will keep her job? It creates a very unpleasant Catch-22 for nurses who work in understaffed facilities. Nurses either take on more patients than is safe and pray that nobody dies on their watch while they are “juggling” more patients than they should be handling, or lose their jobs for refusing to take on additional patients. Proponents of laws that govern nursing patient ratios say that the Catch-22 isn’t good for nurses or their patients.

Whether you agree with the proponents or disagree or fall somewhere in the middle – as a practicing nurse or nursing student, you need to be aware of the issue. Educate yourself about it so that you can prepare yourself and be ready to advocate for whatever side of the issue you fall on.

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