Nurse-Patient Ratios and Patient Mortality

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Gunn, Allison
Scott, Jordan
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2018-04-20
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Nurse-Patient Ratios and Patient Mortality
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Abstract
Nursing staff to patient ratios in acute care hospitals is a significant factor affecting patient mortality rates. In many states, a static ratio is required; however, “pinning down a specific number is hard to do, given the legal vagaries from state to state” (Lippincott Nursing Education, 2018). Nurse-to-patient ratio refers to the concern of the “gap between patient need and the nursing care available to meet patient needs” (Welton, 2007). A mandated nurse staffing ratio is a “formal order by Superior Court” regarding a defined number of patients that a nurse is caring for that is specific to the facility (Merriam-Webster, 2018). In contrast, facilities that do not mandate nurse staffing can have fluctuations in the nurse-to-patient ratios. The purpose of this Evidence Based Practice Brief is to investigate how a specific number of patients that a nurse is caring for affects the patient mortality rate. It is evident that lower nurse-patient ratios reduce nursing errors resulting in higher chance of patient of survival (Hill, 2017). With this research, nurses will have the ability to advocate for themselves and their patients for a mandated nurse-patient ratio. This information will be utilized by nurses in the planning and intervention phase in the nursing plan of care to provide optimal treatment for each patient.
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