I am writing to support legislation that mandates maximum nurse-to-patient ratios. Ratios have always been of concern to health care workers, but with the combination of the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue has become even more critical.

Lower nurse-to-patient ratios have been linked with numerous benefits including lower nurse burnout, fewer readmissions, shorter hospital stays, lower mortality rates and better satisfaction for the patients’ stay.

When the nurse is caring for too many patients, the nurse also carries a physical, mental and emotional burden. The added stress causes them to omit important steps in procedures in order to get all of their tasks done or try to prioritize tasks causing patients to not get the care that they deserve.

Things like medication errors and nutrition problems go unnoticed when nursing assignments are overwhelming. When the stress of understaffing goes on for too long, nurses often leave their position to look for another, which in return causes worse ratios.

In addition to putting the patients at risk, hospitals endure a financial burden. If the understaffed nurses are not providing the best care, patients are more likely to come back sooner.

If they come back in 30 days or less, the hospital is often required to cover the patient’s stay. Hospitals also then have to pay to train new employees to cover the nurses that leave due to low staffing. With laws that restrict ratios, hospitals would have lower turnover rates and fewer complications with patients.

In conclusion, restricting patient-to-nurse ratios would lessen the burden on nurses, increase hospital profits, and increase patient outcomes and satisfaction.

(Alleya Wagner, from the Mount Jackson area and a Mohawk High graduate, is a senior nursing major at Youngstown State University.)

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