TMA worries state will set nurse ratios
By Scott Shepard
Memphis Business Journal
Updated: 8:00 p.m. ET May 16, 2004
California and a number of states have taken aggressive steps to increase the number of nurses caring for patients, but Tennessee may be the first to look at staffing ratios from a slightly different point of view.
At the annual meeting last month of the Tennessee Medical Association, physicians agreed to work with the nursing industry to establish guidelines for nurse-to-patient ratios. Industry-directed guidelines could head off attempts at mandatory guidelines handed down by the state Legislature. TMA wants to include factors such as facility type and the presence of support staff when deciding how many patients a nurse can handle.
One major source of grief in California has been the number of hospitals that have cut support staff in order to raise enough money to pay for visiting nurses who are there to meet the quota.
"Hospitals are under tremendous pressure to control costs, so they've been pressuring companies like us to come off our bill rates," says nurse Lee Booth, owner of Nursing Innovations, Inc., a temp nurse staffing company. "There's a lot of margin pressure. We definitely have heard some nurses say the place is compliant with the ratios but the nurse is doing everything because there's no phlebotomist, or aide or orderly."
It's not a wise use of expertise if a nurse with 12 years' experience in critical care is changing sheets.