News & Events

Save the date: Legislative hearings on important MNA bills

From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
June/July 2011 Edition

On Tuesday, Sept. 20, the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Health will conduct a public hearing at the State House on several critically important MNA bills. This hearing will include testimony on:

S.543/H.1469, An Act Relative to Patient Safety (Sponsors: Sen. Marc Pacheco/Rep. Christine Canavan). The Patient Safety Act will protect patients and strengthen our health care system by requiring 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. There is no single intervention that would more immediately and significantly improve the quality of care that patients receive in the hospital. Setting a limit on how many patients a nurse is assigned at one time will reduce costly medical errors and accidents, hospital-acquired infections, and hospital readmissions, which will, in turn, save precious health care dollars.

H.1506, An Act Prohibiting the Dangerous Practice of Mandatory Overtime (Sponsors: Sen. Jack Hart/Rep. Jim O’Day.) Nurses working at the bedside across the Commonwealth have seen employers drastically increase the use of mandatory overtime as their primary staffing strategy. Forcing nurses and other health care professionals to work when they are exhausted endangers patients and leads to costly and preventable medical errors and complications. The practice of mandatory overtime is indefensible by any patient safety standard, and yet hospitals continue to escalate their use of this practice. This legislation would put an end to it.

S.1076/H.1484, An Act Relative to Safe Patient Handling (Sponsors: Sen. Harriette Chandler/Rep. Denise Garlick). Frequent heavy lifting and transferring of patients is causing skeletal injuries that are debilitating nurses and driving them from the bedside. Shockingly, the cumulative weight lifted by a nurse in one typical eight-hour shift is equivalent to 1.8 tons. Twelve percent of nurses leave the profession annually due to back injuries and greater than 52 percent complain of chronic back pain. This bill would require health care facilities to develop and implement an injury prevention program to protect caregivers and patients from lifting-related injuries. The plan would require providers to supply necessary patient handling equipment or lifting teams, as well as specialized training for health care workers on safe patient handling techniques and the use of handling equipment.

Please save the date, and if you would like to participate in activities associated with the hearing, please contact MNA political organizer Riley Ohlson at 781.830.5740 or