HEALTH

Report: New Jersey public disclosure law has improved nurse to patient ratio

Since New Jersey began requiring hospitals and nursing homes to report the patient loads of each individual nurse the nurse-to-patient ratios have improved.

According to a Rutgers University study, the number of patients per nurse decreased in 10 of 13 specialty areas across the state since the law took effect in 2008.

The study, published in the journal “Policy, Politics, & Nursing Practice,” is the first to evaluate the effectiveness of the public reporting law.

“Nurse staffing, particularly for registered nurses, has been shown to have a direct impact on patient outcomes, such as rates of infection, falls, heart attacks and even death. Insufficient nurse staffing also can affect a patient’s length of stay in the hospital,” said lead researcher Pamela de Cordova, an assistant professor at Rutgers School of Nursing, in a statement. “By reporting and analyzing the data and ensuring that nurses are included in staffing discussions, patient outcomes can be improved.”

New Jersey is one of only five states to require hospitals and nursing homes to report nurse staffing numbers.