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Portrait of a Crisis

Safety in Numbers:
Nurse-to-Patient Ratios and the Future of Health Care
by Suzanne Gordon, John Buchanan, and Tanya Bretherton

Safety in Numbers, a book examining the effectiveness of nurse-to-patient staffing ratios, is destined to become a classic in nursing literature. Gordon, an award-winning journalist and Visiting Professor at the University of Maryland School of Nursing, along with healthcare workforce researchers Buchanan and Bretherton, dissect one of the most controversial topics in health care today.

This isn’t a book filled with legal jargon, complicated diagrams or overwhelming research statistics, but more of a compelling study by the authors to compare and contrast nurse-to-patient ratios in Australia and California—the two places where the RN staffing has been mandated the longest. Using survey data, lively interviews, and cost benefits, the authors present a broader context for the initiatives and their impact on nurses and the profession, as well as larger issues involved in health care and the labor movement.

Safety in Numbers is a must-read for all nurses. While the authors clearly support ratios, they also stress that the existing systems are works in progress and are careful to present both sides of the argument—the nurses who work under the ratios and the nurse managers, and executives who often are still not convinced. The result is a unique book with a balanced account of a hot workplace topic, sure to effect nurses and our healthcare system for years to come.

Cornell University Press
$18.00 (hardcover)