Our patients need safe staffing

Nurses and healthcare workers know that having more nurses at the bedside means better patient outcomes and quality of care, more job satisfaction and less burnout.
But hospital executives consistently understaff units and put budgets ahead of patient care, often disregarding our staffing committee plans.

The responsibility to improve patient care is ours, and that’s why nurses and healthcare workers from across the state launched our campaign on Saturday, November 17 to mobilize and win real staffing standards to protect our patients.

Keynote speaker Beatrice Kalisch, PhD, RN noted that inadequate staffing and unexpected rises in patient acuity are some of the top factors in missed nursing care. Ambulation, mouth care, timely medication administration, and turning are the most frequently missed nursing care components.

Nurses and healthcare workers in California have already passed a law guaranteeing minimum staffing standards, and California nurses joined our conference to speak about the difference guaranteed staffing standards have had on their ability to provide patient care.

A major comparison study from nurse researcher Linda Aiken recently showed that nurse staffing ratios in California are associated with significantly lower patient mortality. The key to saving more lives in hospitals is associated with the ability to not only have better staffing ratios, but also that the ratios are guaranteed and enforceable.*

Guaranteed staffing standards not only help improve patient outcomes, but they will save our hospitals money as well.

The financial impact of healthcare-acquired conditions and preventable hospital re-admissions runs into the billions. The human impact can be measured in significantly reduced quality of life, lost productivity in the workplace, and the emotional strain of prolonged pain and needed care.

At any given time, approximately one in every 20 patients has an infection related to the hospital care. Nearly one in five Medicare patients (2.6 million seniors) are discharged from the hospital and re-admitted with 30 days.

Preventing these adverse events can save billions of dollars and redirect current healthcare resources spent on re-admissions and healthcare acquired condition into further innovations in creating and delivering quality, patient-centered care, Chris Barton, RN told conference attendees.

The Affordable Care Act includes a number of policies to help nurses and healthcare workers improve the safety and quality of patient care. In October 2012, Medicare started to reward hospitals that provide high quality care for their patients through the new Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program.

“This program marks the beginning of a historic change in how Medicare pays health care providers and facilities,” said Chris Barton, RN. “For the first time, hospitals across the country will be paid for inpatient acute care services based on care quality, not just the quantity of the services they provide.”

Changing how Medicare pays for hospital inpatient acute care services is expected to foster higher quality care for all hospital patients. The Value-Based Purchasing Program will distribute payments to hospitals based on their overall performance on a set of quality measures that have been linked to improved clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction.

Our next step is to take our message to our legislators in Olympia. Mark your calendar for our  Delegate Assembly and Lobby Day on January 31, 2013.

“We’re ready to go to our lawmakers and advocate to end unsafe and ineffective care. Safe staffing saves lives,” said Stephanie Curry, RN, at Swedish Medical Center

 

 

 

 

*Aiken“Implications of the California Nurse Staffing Mandate for Other States” www.nursing.upenn.edu/…/Aiken.2010.CaliforniaStaffingRatios.pdf

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