Legislation is Key to Improving Deteriorating Patient Care, Deplorable Working Conditions for Nurses & to Solving the Nursing Shortage
Editor’s Note: Contact the MNA to locate nurses attending from your coverage area at 781.249.0430
Hundreds of nurses and senior citizens from all across the Commonwealth will converge on the State House for a "Nurse Lobby Day" event sponsored by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, which will be held on Tuesday, March 12, 2002 from 9:30 a.m. to noon in the Great Hall. The nurses of Massachusetts, with the endorsement and support from the Mass. Senior Action Council, are mobilizing for passage of landmark legislation that is designed to guarantee the public access to appropriate levels of nursing care and to prevent the unwarranted use of unlicensed personnel in place of qualified professionals. According to the MNA, inadequate nurse staffing levels and unsafe nurse-to-patient ratios in all health care settings are the principle cause of the nursing shortage, the rise in emergency room diversions, an increase in medical errors, mandatory overtime, decreased satisfaction of nurses with their practice, a dramatic rise in injuries among nurses, and a dramatic decline in the quality of patient care.
In response to the current crisis, Sen. Robert Creedon and Rep. Christine Canavan, co-chairs of a special legislative Nursing Commission, have filed HB 1186, An Act Relative to Sufficient Nurse Staffing to Ensure Safe Care, which would mandate the creation, posting and monitoring of appropriate nurse staffing ratios in all health care settings that are sufficient to care for the planned and unplanned needs of patients. The event will feature presentations by nurses and legislators on the legislation and will culminate with visits by the nurses to their respective legislators to lobby for their support. Similar legislation was passed in the state of California, and last month California became the first state in the nation to mandate nurse-to-patient ratios in hospitals.
The fact is nurse-staffing ratios in our hospitals are inadequate and often times unsafe. While a nurse on a typical floor should be caring for no more than five patients (which will be the law in California), it is not uncommon for nurses in Massachusetts be assigned eight to 10 patients. In the last 14 months, numerous studies have appeared that underscore the nurses’ argument for this bill. Last Spring, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a study that showed a direct link between poor nurse staffing levels and a variety of patient complications, including thousands of deaths each year. Last summer, a special legislative commission issued its report on the state of nursing and nursing practice in the Commonwealth, in which they identified a nursing crisis in our health care system, primarily driven by issues of poor staffing and mandatory overtime in Massachusetts hospitals.
MNA Safe Staffing Lobby Day: Tuesday, March 12, 2002 from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
State House (Great Hall)
Nurses and seniors from all parts of the state will attend the event, as will legislators with an interest in health care issues. To arrange interviews before the event, call the MNA for sources in your area.
David Schildmeier: 800.882.2056 x717, 781.249.0430