News & Events

Protecting Massachusetts patients: fighting for safer hospitals

From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
February/March 2011 Edition

Following on the heels of the MNA’s successful passage of legislation enhancing penalties for assaulting health care workers last year, the MNA this year is introducing a package of legislation designed to improve patient safety in the commonwealth’s hospitals. The three bills in this package will help to foster a safe hospital environment where bedside RNs can focus on their top priority, caring for their patients.

The Patient Safety Act
The Patient Safety Act (also known as Safe RN Staffing) will protect hospital patients and nurses, as well as strengthen our health care system by directing the Department of Public Health to set a limit on the number of patients a nurse is forced to care for at one time in an acute care hospital. The bill will also require hospitals to report on a number of nurse-sensitive measures so we can obtain better information about the effect of nursing care on patient safety. By addressing and improving the environment in which registered nurses work, both the quality of patient care and the recruitment and retention of critical nursing staff will improve. The Patient Safety Act was filed by Rep. Christine Canavan, RN (D-Brockton) and by Sen. Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton).

An Act Prohibiting the Dangerous Practice of Mandatory Overtime
Nurses working at the bedside around the state are seeing employers drastically increase the use of mandatory overtime as their primary staffing strategy. This practice endangers patients and leads to costly, preventable medical errors and complications. This legislation would protect patients and help reduce costs by eliminating the dangerous practice of mandatory overtime in hospitals. This legislation was filed by Rep. Jim O’Day (D-West Boylston) and by Sen. Jack Hart, (D-Boston).

An Act Requiring Health Care Employers to Develop and Implement Programs to Prevent Workplace Violence
This bill would require all health care facilities to perform annual risk assessments about the factors that put their employees—and their patients—at risk of workplace violence and to use those assessments to develop written prevention plans to mitigate those risks. Creating a safe environment for health care workers automatically makes patients safer. It will reduce the risks of violence in the hospital and help RNs and health care professionals worry less about violence and focus on their top priority: keeping patients safe. This bill was filed by Rep. Michael Brady (D-Brockton) and by Sen. James Timilty (D-Walpole). Together, these three bills will make hospitals safer!

Get involved!
This year, 39 new state representatives and eight new state senators have been sworn in. It’s the largest freshman class of legislators in decades. Step one for our Patient Safety Package is to educate new members of the legislature about these important issues. They need to hear from bedside nurses in their district. Accordingly, we will be conducting meetings in legislative districts with a number of new legislators so they can hear directly from YOU about the issues you face every day at the bedside. To find out who your legislators are, go to Then contact your community organizer to see how you can get involved in educating your elected officials on YOUR issues:

Region 1: Leo Maley,
Region 2: Sandy Ellis,
Region 3: Barbara “Cookie” Cooke,
Region 4: Lainey Titus,
Region 5: Brian Moloney,

And to visit the State House to advocate for patient safety, contact political organizer Riley Ohlson,