Public Policy and Nurse Staffing: What Approach is Best?

January 1, 2005

Advocates have pressed for legislation mandating improvements in nurse staffing for at least a decade. Recent research publications have established a strong link between nurse staffing and the quality of patient care. These studies suggest that legislation that increases nurse staffing has the potential to reduce inpatient mortality and medical error rates. How should policymakers assess this literature and evaluate the growing number of bills seeking to regulate hospital staffing of nursing personnel? This policy brief examines the underlying premises of such legislation and reviews the potential benefits and drawbacks of different regulatory strategies.

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