Study: Falls, sores unaffected by nurse-patient ratio

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The preliminary findings of a study on the effect of increased nurse-to-patient ratio laws in California hospitals has shown mixed results - and met with some serious criticism from providers.

The increased presence of registered nurses has had little to no effect on the instances of pressure sores and falls in hospitals and homes throughout the state, according to study authors. Calling it a "flawed study" that presents "crooked data," representatives from the California Nurses Association pointed to other national studies that have shown lower ratios of nurses help prevent a number of other conditions, including infections, preventable deaths and overall hospital stay time.

Study authors admitted there are a number of dichotomies in the report that they "do not yet fully understand," such as a simultaneous decrease in instances of bedsores and an increase in the number of patients with serious pressure sores.

California thus far is the only state with nurse-to-patient ratio laws on the books. As a result, the rest of the country views it as a bellwether on the issue. Seven other states have introduced initiatives to increase their ratios.

The study appears in the March issue of the peer-reviewed journal Policy, Politics & Nursing Practice. The Association of California Nurse Leaders and the American Nurses Association/California, groups that comprise the California Nursing Outcomes Coalition, funded the research.

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