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Nurse Staffing Battle Rages On in Massachusetts

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, April 1, 2014

"Patients can't wait," he says. "Patients are suffering every day in Massachusetts hospitals. Something needs to be done."

Schildmeier says that during the hearing, nurses in favor of the staffing mandate presented a foot-high stack of all the research that has been done to show that when nurses care for fewer patients, outcomes are better.

How much? "There's a mountain of data," he says.

Among that data is new research that compares standards of nursing care and patient outcomes for hospitals in Massachusetts, where there is no limit on nurses' patient assignments, and California, where nursing patient limits are regulated by law. One of the study authors who presented the data, Judith Shindul-Rothschild, Phd, RNPC, said the study showed an association between nurse staffing in Massachusetts and a higher rate of readmissions for heart failure.

"This suggests that poor nurse staffing ratios combined with high acuity and high patient turnover may have an impact on HF [heart failure] readmission rates," the authors write.

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