The research is in: Ratios have saved lives in Queensland

Published: 19 July 2019 

Today, results from a world-first evaluation of legislated ratios in Queensland were released - and the results tell a remarkable story.
Since July 2016 when the Palaszczuk government legislated minimum nurse-to-patient ratios in 27 prescribed public hospitals, there have been:

  • 145 deaths avoided
  • 255 readmissions avoided, with an estimated cost saving of $1.2 - $2.4 million
  • 29,200 hospital days avoided, with an estimated cost saving of $54 - $81 million

Thanks to legislated ratios, the average medical/surgical nurse has seen a workload reduction of:

  • 1 - 2 patients during the day
  • 1 - 3 patients on night shift.

Reductions of one patient per nurse were associated with:

  • 9% less chance of dying in hospital
  • 6% less chance of readmission within 7 days
  • 3% reduction in length of stay
  • 7% reduction in nurse burnout.


A ‘gold standard’ for research

The findings are based on extensive international research undertaken by Queensland Health, Queensland University of Technology, and the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn).
Queensland is the first jurisdiction in the world to apply a method of research that studied the effect of ratios both pre and post rollout. This makes this research the gold standard for future studies. It will be invaluable to our long-term goal of seeing nurse-to-patient ratios implemented across all health and aged care facilities in Queensland.
The full research findings will be delivered to Queensland Health in August.

Positive Practice Environments key to ratios success

Creating a practice environment that supports the implementation of ratios takes time and the ongoing commitment of management and staff.
We know that those prescribed wards where management have embraced ratios - and therefore complied appropriately with the legislation - are the ones that have benefited the most, including both patients and staff.
We continue to work with members at the local level where ratios are not being applied correctly. If you have an issue, contact your QNMU Organiser on 3840 1444.