Following the Secretary of State’s recent release of the official ballot initiative petitions on Wednesday, Sep 18, the Campaign for Safe Patient Care launched its drive for the 70,000 signatures needed to place the Patient Safety Act on the 2014 ballot this past Wednesday. The Patient Safety Act will dramatically improve patient safety in Massachusetts hospitals by setting a safe maximum limit on the number of patients assigned to a nurse at one time, while providing control and flexibility for hospital administrators to adjust nurses’ patient assignments based on the specific needs of the patients.
The three kickoff events were scheduled in the state’s largest cities (Boston, Worcester, and Springfield), where local nurses and other supporters collected signatures. The MNA/NNU Patient Safety Act Mobile Petition Bus was also at each respective events, and it will be traveling throughout the state in coming months to support the signature gathering effort by volunteers.
The Boston event included signature gathering outside of the Tufts Medical Center T stop; the Worcester event involved a visit to the Worcester Senior Center where MNA president Donna Kelly Williams educated the center's lunchtime visitors about the importance of the initiative; and in Springfield, volunteers who had gathered in Court Square received patition materials and go a brief "how to" before they fanned out into the community to get signatures.
The filing of the initiative follows the release of dozens of prominent research studies and reports that show beyond any doubt the need to set a maximum limit on the number of patients that can be assigned to each registered nurse at one time if we are to avoid mistakes, serious complications and preventable readmissions. The call for this law has intensified in recent years in reaction to dramatic changes within the hospital industry driven by state and national health care reform, including the merger, consolidation and conversion of non-profit hospitals into larger corporate networks. None of this has been beneficial for patients as the industry’s response has been to cut staff and to reduce services in an attempt to boost hospital profit margins at the expense of patients’ safety.
Currently there is no law and there are no standards in existence for the number of patients that can be assigned to a nurse at one time, and there are no requirements for hospitals to provide an adequate level of nursing care. It is not uncommon for nurses in Massachusetts to have six, seven or even eight patients at a time, when a safe limit would be no more than four patients for a nurse on a typical medical/surgical floor. For more information, visit PatientSafetyAct.com.