Five Nurses To Every Bed

Ken AshfordHealth CareLeave a Comment

Oneflewratched2I’m not particularly knowlegeable about the nation’s nursing shortage, except I know that there is one, and it is no joke.

California seems to have come up with a solution:

California hospitals are struggling to meet a new, first-in-the-nation requirement that they have one nurse on duty for every five patients at all times, and officials say most institutions are falling short.

Some hospitals have tried to close the gap by hiring nurses from outside agencies and making staffers work more hours. Others are closing beds or keeping people longer in the emergency room to prevent other parts of the hospital from becoming overcrowded.

The new requirement comes amid a severe nationwide shortage of nurses.

"Even if money came down from heaven and paid for all of the extra costs, you still can’t find the nurses," said Jan Emerson, a spokeswoman for the California Hospital Association.

Several states have minimum staffing levels for certain hospital wards, such as intensive care. California is the only state to establish mandatory levels in all areas, said Ken August, spokesman for the California Department of Health Services.

It seems to me that legislating manditory nurse-to-patient ratios is not the solution.  That’s like some African country legislating four-course meals to all its drought-ridden starving citizens, isn’t it?

Shortages are shortages.  Legislating the absence of shortages doesn’t magically make food or nurses appear, you know?