New Jersey nurse staffing improved after public disclosure law enacted, study finds

In 2005, New Jersey passed legislation requiring hospitals and nursing homes to publicly report the number of patients each nurse is responsible for. The law helped improve nurse staffing ratios, a study published in Policy, Politics, & Nursing Practice, shows.

Researchers from Newark, N.J.-based Rutgers School of Nursing conducted a secondary analysis of reported data from New Jersey's Health Department.

The 2015 law required hospitals and nursing homes to report their nurse staffing levels to the health department, including the number of patients assigned to each staff type. The analysis included data on 73 hospitals from 2008 to 2009 and 72 hospitals from 2010 to 2015.

Researchers found the number of patients per nurse decreased in 10 of 13 specialty care areas in the state.

"Although the number of patients does not account for patient acuity, the decrease in the patients per RN over seven years indicated the importance of public reporting in improving patient safety," study authors concluded.

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