Establishing minimum nurse-to-patient staffing ratios in hospitals can save lives, prevent readmissions, shorten hospital stays, and reduce costs, a new study finds.

Researchers evaluated legislation enacted in 2016 in Queensland, Australia as a safety measure that limited the average number of patients per nurse to four, similar to pending legislation in New York and Illinois.

“The positive results in Queensland should inform policies in the US and elsewhere,” says lead author Matthew McHugh, chair for nursing education and director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.

The researchers collected extensive data before and after the legislation from about 17,000 nurses and analyzed outcomes for more than 400,000 patients.

Their findings include:

  • There was a clear need for a safe hospital nurse staffing standard.
  • The policy led to better nurse staffing in the intervention hospitals.
  • The staffing improvements stimulated by the policy led to better outcomes for patients.
  • The policy yielded a good return on investment for the public.

Read the full article about the value of more nurses by Michele Berger at Futurity.