Everyone knows that nurse staffing is critical to the care and outcomes of patients.  Massachusetts passed a law in 2014 requiring a maximum of two patients for every nurse in intensive care units[1]. California is currently the only state with hospital-wide required minimum nurse-to-patient ratios.

Aside from mandated ratios, state staffing laws in nursing tend to fall into one of two other buckets[2]:

  • The first is to require hospitals to have nurse-driven staffing committees[3]that develop unique staffing plans.
  • The second requires facilities to disclose staffing levels to the public or regulatory body[4].

Minimum staffing regulations however, are not only relevant to hospital-based nursing; as examples, they also apply to infection control, daycare and hospital-based schools in some states. So how does this impact AMS’ approach to benchmarking?

AMS’ benchmark development approach involves a combination of art and management science. AMS has an extensive benchmarking database that consists of benchmarking projects performed on-site at hospitals and for healthcare clients throughout the United States. Factors such as minimum staffing requirements must be considered in the labor benchmarking analysis and development process.  AMS’ comparative database considers state-specific regulations. In particular, the database incorporates mandatory staff-to-patient ratios whenever required by law.  AMS focuses on determining and validating the operational intricacies and unique demands of the departments it assesses and incorporates those into our best-practice benchmark developed ranges.

Minimum staffing regulations underscore how vital a thorough understanding of the regulations that pertain to each state are when developing labor benchmarks. Adherence to these rules ensures that healthcare providers in each state are compliant, furthering the provision of quality care, and performance improvement.

[1] An attempt to broadly regulate nurse-to-patient ratios in Massachusetts was struck down in 2018.

[2] About 35% of states also prohibit or limit the amount of mandatory overtime assigned to nurses.

[3] CT, IL, NV, OH, OR, TX, WA

[4] IL, NJ, NY, RI, VT