Unsafe Nurse To Patient Ratios In NJ Put Us All At Risk

In this episode of Wine, Women, and Revolution, Heather is joined in the studio by Kate McLaughlin the founder of NJ Safe Ratios. Although Heather had wine in this episode, Kate was not in studio so she didn’t get to share. The women still had a fun interview even if Kate was wine-less

Safe Ratios

In NJ, we have no legal requirements on nurse to patient ratios, and nurses are our last line of defense protecting us from medical accidents and errors. It has been proven , states that pass these ratio requirements have better patient outcomes and safer hospitals. So why don’t we have this legislation in NJ? Heather and Kate discuss what safe ratios are, and how we can all get involved to make NJ safer and healthier.

Nursing Professionals

Kate is a nurse at a major hospital in New Jersey. She began her career at a hospital with unsafe staffing measures. Hoping  it was just that hospital, she transferred to a different facility. Sadly, the same problems awaited her at her new job. Nurses across the country find themselves in similar situations. It makes no difference if the hospital is unionized or not. Across the board, hospitals lack safe ratios of nurses to patients. Kate knew she had to do something. She began NJ Safe Ratios as a way to educate patients and professionals about this major issue.

Preventable Medical Errors

The third leading cause of death in the US is preventable medical errors. That amounts to 350,000 deaths each year. Imagine you are in a busy hospital facility. The nurse is in charge of so many patients they barely have time to see each one. A medication gets ordered by a doctor but mis-entered into the computer. That nurse is your last line of defense to make sure you get the medications your doctor ordered. You want that nurse to be able to give their full concentration to you. Without safe ratio standards, that nurse may not have time to give you that protection you need. Nurses stop about 86% of all medication errors at the bedside.

What Is A Safe Ratio?

Medical Professionals have researched what the safest ratio are. They included nurses in that research and developed a safe ratio law in California, which Arnold Schwarzenegger immediately threatened to end. Nurses fought back and got safe staffing implemented in 2004. These laws had an impact and California has some of the best results in the country. These better results more than pay the salaries of the extra nurses. The added safety saves the facility money. It is a win-win. So, why don’t we have those ratios in New Jersey?

To hear more about healthcare in NJ, check out our interview with Kim Muedt

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