Panel offers prescription for improving nursing care in Pa.

     A Pennsylvania commission has recommended measures to improve nursing care in the commonwealth. (<a href=Photo via ShutterStock) " title="shutterstock_125092634" width="640" height="360"/>

    A Pennsylvania commission has recommended measures to improve nursing care in the commonwealth. (Photo via ShutterStock)

    Researchers consider nurse-to-patient ratios one of the best indicators of the quality of medical care.But the data picture of staffing levels in Pennsylvania is fuzzy.Recent surveys don’t even tie staffing data to specific facilities.

    A report by the Joint State Government Commission said lawmakers should consider making hospitals report how many nurses are on shift for each patient. That way, potential patients could make informed decisions about where they’d like to receive care.

    Five other states do this to some degree. In New Jersey, hospitals have to report their nurse staffing levels four times a year.

    Average staffing levels in Pennsylvania are slightly poorer than they are in California, the only state where nurse-to-patient ratios are mandated.

    The report, which calls for better data collection that pertains to specific hospitals and facilities, also  recommended that Pennsylvania nurses receive whistle-blower protections.

    Right now, state law doesn’t protect nurses who risk their jobs when they voice a grievance at work about things like staffing levels and nursing assignments.

    Efforts to extend whistle-blower protections to nurses go back more than a decade.

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