Ballot Question 1 is about nursing staff levels. It is also about science, science denial, and growing hospital profits. A “yes” vote on Question 1 is a vote for evidence-based science and quality patient care.

Here is the science:

These are conclusions of published scientific studies regarding the impact of nursing staff levels. These are just a few of many, many studies proving reduced patient deaths, infections, and complications when the staffing levels of nurses are maintained. Cutting nursing staff is dangerous to you and me and anyone else who might be a hospital patient.

“Staffing is a key determinant of healthcare-associated infection in critically ill patients. Assuming causality, a substantial proportion of all infections could be avoided if nurse staffing were to be maintained at a higher level.” (Scientific journal: Critical Care Medicine)

“The findings of this study revealed that the ratio of total nurse staffing to patients was significantly related to in-hospital mortality in both partial and marginal analyses, controlling for patient characteristics.” (Scientific journal: The Journal of Nursing Administration)

“Findings from this review demonstrate an association of nurse staffing in the intensive care unit with patient outcomes and are consistent with findings in studies of the general acute care population.” (Scientific journal: Critical Care Medicine)

“A greater proportion of regulated staffing (i.e. registered nurses, enrolled nurses, practical or vocational nurses) is associated with improved outcomes ... [including] patient adverse events (including atelectasis, decubitus ulcers, falls, pneumonia, postsurgical and treatment infection and urinary tract infections).” (Scientific journal: International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare)

“... most studies demonstrated a trend between increased nurse staffing levels and decreased adverse patient outcomes in the intensive care unit which is consistent with previous literature.” (Scientific journal: Australian Critical Care)

“There is evidence that levels of nurse staffing are associated with clinical outcomes of children.” (Scientific journal: International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare)

The scientific data is compelling and undeniable. It has been reproduced over and over again.

Here is the science denial:

Hospital administrators throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, including those here on Cape Cod, don’t want us to know the science and want to deny its reality. They want to save money by minimizing expenditures on people who actually care for patients, like nurses, and want us to think that increasing the number of nurses caring for you or your family in the hospital is somehow “bad for patients.” It is not bad for patients.

Massachusetts hospitals are enjoying a series of profitable years, and the most profitable of all is Cape Cod Healthcare, which pays its CEO over $30,00 each week as a reward for this performance. These hospitals are not going broke, and there is no excuse for refusal to follow the evidence-based scientific data and maintain nursing levels. There are large numbers of non-clinical employees in our hospitals, and in the event that hospitals were in financial trouble (they are not), costs for non-clinical staff should be addressed rather than costs of nursing staff proven to save lives, prevent infections, avoid complications, and keep us healthy.

On voting day, remember that all the science and all the data support a “yes” vote on Question 1. Don’t succumb to science denial and profit-driven advertising budgets. Vote “yes” on Question 1.

Dr. Paul A. Skudder, Walker Street, Falmouth

(1) comment


most studies are useless, what means more is to ask the ones that actually work in the profesion, can not do a study in california and expect it to work everywhere.

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