From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
January 2009 Edition
By Andi Mullin
Director of the Division of Legislation and Governmental Affairs
The MNA is welcoming the New Year by gearing up for the beginning of a new legislative session at the State House. Our legislative agenda addresses core issues such as nurse staffing, the nursing shortage, protections against workplace violence and much more.
Included below is a comprehensive outline of the MNA’s legislative agenda for the 2009-2010 session. To learn more about these bills and to become involved in supporting these critical pieces of legislation, please contact the MNA Division of Legislation and Governmental Affairs.
The Patient Safety Act
The MNA will again file our bill to require the Department of Public Health to set a limit on the number of patients a hospital nurse is required to care for at one time. The issue of understaffing of nurses in acute care hospitals remains the top issue facing our membership (see related story on Page 6), and we remain committed to addressing this problem through a statewide, legislative solution. Although the struggle to pass this legislation has been long and difficult, we have made progress each and every year in moving the legislation forward. We will continue to push the legislature to address this important patient safety issue.
An Act Providing for Safe Patient Handling
This bill would set acceptable standards for the lifting and handling of patients to curb the high rate of injuries incurred by RNs doing such activities. Direct patient care RNs get injured from lifting, moving and repositioning their patients at a higher rate than that of laborers, movers and truck drivers according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics. At a time when we are trying to retain and recruit more nurses to the bedside, this legislation is critical to ensure that we do not lose quality nursing staff to preventable injuries.
An Act Requiring Health Care Employers to Develop and Implement Programs to Prevent Workplace Violence
This bill would require health care employers to annually perform a risk assessment and, based on those findings, develop and implement programs to minimize the danger of workplace violence to employees.
An Act Relative to Assault and Battery on Health Care Providers
This legislation would enhance penalties for patients/clients who assault any health care provider treating, transporting or otherwise performing health care responsibilities.
An Act Relative to a Patient’s Report Card of Nursing
This legislation would require hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, etc., to report data, including but not limited to: measures of the severity of patient illness, readmission rates, lengths-of-stay, patient/family satisfaction, indicators of the nature and amount of nursing care directly provided by licensed nurses, the number of patients on average cared for by a nurse, and documentation of defined nursing interventions and patient safety measures. This would enable purchasers of group health insurance policies and health care services and the public to make meaningful financial and quality of care comparisons.
An Act to Ensure Safe Medication Administration
This legislation would prohibit unlicensed personnel from distributing medications for which they have not received sufficient education and training as approved by the state.
An Act Relative to Improvements in Private Duty Nursing Care for Developmentally Disabled Children
This legislation would provide expert nursing care to all developmentally disabled children eligible to receive private duty nursing care.
An Act Relative to a Nurse Deputy Commissioner at the Department of Public Health
This legislation would direct the Department of Public Health to appoint a registered nurse to be nurse deputy commissioner responsible for statewide planning, policy development and the coordination, communication and resource management for programs and district health officers within the department.
An Act Relative to a Registered Nurse Seat on the Public Health Council
This legislation would add an additional seat on the Public Health Council for a registered nurse from the state’s largest organization of registered nurses.
An Act Relative to Group 4 for Health Care Professionals
This legislation would include in group 4, for purposes of retirement, state employees whose duties require them to be licensed health care professionals for ten or more years who care for prisoners, the mentally ill, mentally retarded, chronically psychologically impaired or those with chronic infectious disease.
An Act Relative to Group 2 Employees
This legislation would include in Group 2, for purposes of retirement, state employees who care for the mentally ill, mentally retarded, chronically psychologically impaired or those with chronic infectious disease.
An Act Related to Interest Arbitration for Health Care Professionals
This legislation would make arbitration for a bargaining unit employed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts binding, provided that the scope is limited to wages, hours and conditions of employment.
An Act to Include Certain Municipal Employees of the Commonwealth in Group 2 of the Contributory Retirement System for Public Employees
This legislation would entail classifying licensed nursing care employees of cities and towns in Group 2 of the Public Employees Retirement System.
An Act Regarding Insurance Equity for Registered Nurse First Assistants
This legislation would require insurance coverage for registered nurse first assistant services in insurance policies and health service contracts issued in the Commonwealth.
An Act Relative to Creating a Difficult to Manage Unit within the Department of Mental Health
This legislation would create a “Difficult to Manage” unit for women within the Department of Mental Health and reinstate the “Difficult to Manage” unit for men.
An Act Authorizing the Sale of “RN” Distinctive Registration Plates
This legislation would direct the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to issue distinctive license plates whose proceeds would establish a fund for the future of nursing.