If something was proven to be beneficial for patients in the hospital, wouldn’t you want it to be done? Maximum nurse to patient ratios are beneficial for nurses, patients, and healthcare systems, yet they aren’t required by law in Connecticut. 

Appropriate staffing in the hospital is crucial to provide safe, patient-centered care that is timely and effective. Appropriate staffing ratios have been proven to improve patient care and patient satisfaction. Appropriate ratios also prevent falls, and reduce medical errors, pressure ulcers, infections, readmissions, duration of stay, and even deaths. Nurse-patient ratios are one of the major determining factors of patient outcome. 

We need to put the people of our state first and initiate a law that requires specific nurse-to-patient ratios among hospitals in the state of Connecticut.

California in 2004 became the first and only state to mandate specific nurse to patient ratios for all specific units in the hospitals. California has now seen lower mortality rates and better nurse outcomes with nurse retention. Connecticut in 2009 passed a law that required hospitals to have nurse staffing oversight committees.  Is this enough?  If you or your family member were in the hospital, it would be reassuring to know that there is a law in place to strive for their best possible outcomes. Without limits on patient-to-nurse ratios, nurses are required to prioritize and choose which patient’s needs are met when it shouldn’t even be a question.

In a survey conducted by Hospital IQ in November 2021, 90% of nurses reported they are considering leaving the profession in the next year. There is an increase in stress and burnout among the nursing population heightened by the pandemic. This has caused many nurses to leave the acute care setting, making the nursing shortage worse. However, 72% of nurses in the Hospital IQ survey reported experiencing stress and burnout prior to the pandemic. 

When mandated ratios were utilized, nurses’ burnout and job dissatisfaction were significantly lower and nurses reported improved quality of care for their patients. Nurse-to-patient ratios would help keep patients safe and reduce nursing burnout and retain the nurses in the hospital. If hospitals wish to retain nurses working in acute care settings, initiatives need to change to make the workplace safer.

With the significant nursing shortage in the country, there needs to be legislative officials who are advocating for improved workplace safety for nurses, starting with these ratios. Among nurses surveyed about inadequate staffing ratios, 75% said that this hindered the quality of their work life, patient care quality, and the amount of time nurses can spend with their patients.

Maximum nurse-to-patient ratios are necessary in inpatient hospital settings. We need legislative initiatives like the one in California to provide Connecticut with the quality patient care our state deserves. I urge my fellow nurses to reach out to their hospital administrators and nursing unions to initiate maximum nurse-to-patient ratios in their hospitals. As nurses it is our time to advocate for ourselves and our peers for appropriate staffing laws. We need to bring maximum nurse-to-patient ratios to our hospitals in the state of Connecticut with specific requirements for patient safety. If you are in support for improved patient safety, it is time to let our elected leaders know we need appropriate staffing ratios in Connecticut.  

I urge you to join me in this conversation by spreading the word of this important need for our state and writing to your local representatives to initiate this essential change for our patients’ safety.

Nicole DiLoreto lives in Wethersfield.