The public was well-served today with the release of a report by the New York State Department of Health (DOH) about hospital-acquired infection rates at specific facilities in New York State.
But more information is needed about how to correct these problems, such the high rate of central line-associated bloodstream infections identified in the report. These types of infections are directly related to the number of patients assigned to each registered nurse.
When researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigated an outbreak of central venous catheter-associated bloodstream infections (CVC-BSI) at a Veterans Administration Hospital, they found that the high rate of infection corresponded to an increase in the number of patients per nurse. Their study, published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, said that "a high patient-to-nurse ratio [is] and independent risk factor for CVC-BSI occurring in the ICU."
The DOH infection report tells us what is happening. Reporting patient-to-nurse ratios would tell us why it's happening. This vital information is needed if the state is to help facilities reduce their infection rates.
The New York State Nurses Association is promoting legislation that would require hospitals to report the number of nursing staff they have available to patients every day during every shift. The bill overwhelming passed the Assembly this year and last year. For text of the bill, see here.
New Yorkers deserve to know patient-to-nurse ratios in their local hospitals.
The New York State Nurses Association
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