A recent Boston Globe op-ed by Suzanne Gordon argues in favor of state-mandated nurse staffing ratios for hospitals. A response to this was submitted as a letter to the editor by our chief nursing officer. Here are her thoughts:
We can all agree that more nursing time spent directly with patients results in better patient outcomes. But mandated nurse to patient ratios, which Suzanne Gordon advocates in her Aug. 5 op-ed “Critical care,’’ are the wrong way to achieve this goal.
Those of us applying proven improvement methods in health care, such as Lean and Six Sigma, have learned what the manufacturing world has long known. We need to free nurses from the administrative burdens, inefficient activities, and wasted steps that do not directly add value for patient care.
In an environment of rapidly expanding health care costs, legislatively mandated nurse to patient ratios are unsustainable.
Yes, we need more nursing time spent directly with patients. But we must achieve this by aggressively applying improvement techniques to remove waste from our workflow. This is the only sustainable way to both control costs and improve patient safety.
Marsha L. Maurer
Senior vice president, Patient Care Services
Chief nursing officer
Lois E. Silverman Department of Nursing
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center