There are constant changes to laws and legislation regarding patient care and safety. The purpose of this report is to inform the reader of recent and upcoming changes to legislation that may affect nursing care of patients. Research by L. Aiken, et al. and A. Tourangeau, support the need for higher education of registered nurses. Their research proves that patient outcomes are improved when registered nurses carry a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Research conducted by J. Needleman, et al., concluded that reducing the nurse-patient ratio resulted in the patient being at less risk for developing hospital-acquired illnesses as well as a reduced risk of inpatient mortality. The reader will also be informed about the Joint Commission’s protocol for reducing the occurrence of wrong-patient, wrong-site, and wrong-procedure during surgical procedures.
Politics, Legislation, and Implications to Patient Care
As the American population ages, healthcare and its resources are in greater demand. As the demand for healthcare increases, the topic of patient safety has become increasingly important. Laws and legislation regarding patient care are changing almost constantly to maintain patient safety while still providing comprehensive patient care. This report will focus on informing the reader of recent and upcoming legislation regarding patient care, what has brought those changes about, and the effects it can have on the healthcare industry and patient care. It is important to stay informed of these changes because it may affect the registered nurses education requirements and scope of practice in the future. The Joint Commission has maintained reports of sentinel events since January 1995. They define sentinel events as “…an unexpected occurrence involving death or serious physical or psychological injury, or the risk thereof. Serious injury specifically includes loss of limb or function.” (The Joint Commission, 2011). The top ten list of sentinel events includes wrong-site surgery, suicide, operative/post-operative complication, delay in treatment, medication errors, and patient falls, unintended retention of foreign body, assault, rape or homicide, perinatal death or loss of function, patient death or injury in restraints. It is important to note that a sentinel event is not always a medical error. The Joint Commission states that: Since the sentinel event database was implemented in January 1995, The Joint Commission has reviewed 7,147 reports of sentinel events as of September 30, 2010. A total of 7,288 patients were affected by these events, with 4,844 or 66 percent, resulting in patient death. Because most of these events are voluntarily reported, and represent only a small proportion of actual events, no conclusions should be drawn about the actual relative frequency of events or trends in events over time. With reports such as those, it becomes increasingly obvious that changes need to be made to protect patients from medical errors. Especially when it is noted that from those events, all were voluntarily reported; this allows room for speculation that there are many more events taking place without being reported.
A report by Jack Needleman, et al (2002), showed there is a significant relationship regarding registered nurse staffing ratios and patient outcomes while hospitalized. The report found that the more hours dedicated to the patient by registered nurses resulted in lower incidences of urinary tract infections, gastrointestinal bleeding, pneumonia, shock, cardiac arrest, and failure to rescue. This report indicated the importance of reduced nurse-patient ratios because lower nurse-patient ratios result in less hospital-acquired illnesses and reduction in patient mortality. Additionally, according to Jack Needleman, et al (2007), another report indicated that there is a direct...