Department of Public Health Sciences

Licensed caregiver characteristics and staffing in California acute care hospital units

Hodge MB, Romano PS, Harvey D, Samuels SJ, Olson VA, Sauvé MJ, Kravitz RL.

The Journal of nursing administration . 2004. 34(3):125-133.

PURPOSE: Concerns about declining quality of care and nurse staffing shortages led to legislation mandating minimum nurse-to-patient ratios in the state of California. Although research finds that better registered nurse (RN) staffing results in higher quality of care, little evidence exists on which to base specific nurse-patient ratios. The authors describe the results of a California survey characterizing licensed caregivers, identifying staffing levels by unit type, and describing how staffing levels vary across hospital types. METHODS: A stratified random sample of general acute care hospitals was surveyed to collect cross-sectional data on hospitals' nursing workforce and staffing practices and to assess the impact of potential patient-to-nurse staffing ratios. All academic medical centers; rural, private, and city/county hospitals; and hospitals affiliated with a large group-model health maintenance organization (HMO) were eligible for inclusion. RESULTS: Eighty hospitals were surveyed, representing all major metropolitan areas in the state. Acute care hospitals in California have diverse nursing staffs with variations in education, experience, and employment status. Considerable variations in skill mix were identified, with the proportion of RNs ranging from 30% to 84%, depending on the unit type surveyed. CONCLUSIONS: As states struggle with an anticipated critical shortage of RNs, these results have several implications for health and education policy. Future studies of this type will be needed to evaluate the impact of anticipated changes in the regulation of nurse staffing.

Close Window

UC Davis Health System is pleased to provide this information for general reference purposes only. It should not be considered as a substitute for professional medical advice. You are urged to consult with your health care provider for diagnosis of and treatment for any health-related condition. The information provided herein may not and should not be used for diagnosis and treatment.

Reproduction of material on this web site is hereby granted solely for personal use. No other use of this material is authorized without prior written approval of UC Regents.