Survey Shows 82% of the Public Support the Measure
More than half of Legislators and 58 organizations endorse MNA’s proposed legislation to Regulate RN to Patient Ratios in Mass Hospitals
State House Hearing on the Bill is Scheduled for June 18 Before the Health Care Committee
CANTON, Mass.— An overwhelming majority of Massachusetts citizens – 82% – wants the Legislature to pass a proposed bill to regulate Registered Nurse-to-patient ratios in Massachusetts hospitals, a recent survey has found. More than 58 health care and consumer advocacy groups have joined forces with Bay State RNs to push for H.1282, Quality Patient Care/Safe RN Staffing legislation, which will be the focus of a June 18 public hearing before the Joint Committee on Health Care.
The legislation, which was filed by Rep. Christine Canavan, RN (D-Brockton) and the Massachusetts Nurses Association, has been co-sponsored by 101 out of 200 members of the Legislature.
The advocacy groups have joined with Bay State RNs to form the new Coalition to Protect Massachusetts Patients, which will push for this urgently needed measure to safeguard hospital patients and address a growing nursing shortage in the state. The legislation would set minimum RN-to-patient ratios for all units and departments in Massachusetts hospitals as a condition of licensure by the Department of Public Health.
Recent research, including studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine, have shown that patients’ risks of death and complications increase significantly when nurses are assigned too many patients.
"As the scientific evidence grows, and as nurses talk to the public about the relationship between proper RN staffing and quality patient care, support for this long overdue measure continues to build," said Karen Higgins, president of MNA. "The MNA is committed to working with these groups and the public to convince the legislature that they need to act and act now to ensure patients the care they deserve. Our motto is clear and direct: ‘Safe RN staffing Saves Lives’," Higgins said.
"As an organization representing the elderly, we know that the people we advocate for are the ones most likely to be hospitalized. Our very lives depend upon the quality and safety of the nursing care provided," said Phil Mamber, President of the Mass. Senior Action Council. "We have seen the research concerning the impact of patients sharing their nurse with too many other patients and we know that this legislation is key to improving the care we receive and to guaranteeing our safety."
"For patients dealing with respiratory illness adequate care and sound treatment and rapid recovery are dramatically impacted by the quality of nursing care provided. We support this legislation because it will establish standards of care that will contribute to quality care for those our organization advocates for." – Carlos Alvarez, Executive Director of the American Lung Association of Massachusetts.
A survey of Massachusetts voters conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation, indicates that more than 82% percent of respondents support legislation to regulate RN-to-patient ratios. Those same voters said they also support modest cost increases to pay for the initial implementation of RN-to-patient ratios.
In just one week in May 2002, 80,000 Bay State residents signed petitions supporting the ratios.
A public hearing on the bill before the Joint Committee on Health Care has been scheduled for June 18, 2003, beginning at 10 a.m. The MNA is planning a rally before the hearing and will be mobilizing nurses and citizens from across the Commonwealth to attend the hearing and to testify on its behalf.
Organizations that support H.1282, MNA’s Legislation to Preserve
Quality Care and Protect Patient Safety