Massachusetts Nurses Association To Lobby Lawmakers for Mandatory Staff Levels
The Massachusetts Nurses Association yesterday announced plans to lobby state lawmakers to pass a bill that would require minimum patient-to-nurse ratios in hospitals, the Boston Globe reports. The bill, which would require one registered nurse per four patients in hospital surgical and medical units statewide, has stalled in committee in the last three legislative sessions. MNA officials cited several recent studies, such as a report in the Oct. 23 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, that conclude that higher patient-to-nurse ratios in hospitals impact the quality of care and result in more patient deaths. MNA President Karen Higgins said, "The scientific evidence is clear and overwhelming. When nurses have too many patients, patients' lives are in jeopardy." According to the Globe, support for the bill to establish mandatory minimum nurse-to-patient ratios in hospitals has increased; more than 70 state lawmakers have expressed support for the bill. However, hospital administrators oppose the legislation, which they said "would be impossible to implement" because of a nursing shortage in the state, the Globe reports. Twelve other states plan to consider similar legislation next year, and mandatory minimum nurse-to-patient ratios will take effect in California in 2004. MNA Executive Director Julie Pinkham said, "Mandating safe staff levels is not a new concept. In fact, it's already in place in Massachusetts at day-care facilities and in kennels, but not in hospitals" (Tangney, Boston Globe, 12/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.