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WWLP: Nurses push to improve patient safety

Nurses push to improve patient safety

Too many patients & too much overtime a concern

Jackie Bruno

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Nurses Association is pressuring lawmakers on Beacon Hill to pass two bills that they say would improve patient safety.

The Nurse Association in concerned that nurses have too many patients and are being forced to work too much overtime. They say that puts the patients at risk.

John Bennett, of Agawam, knows first hand what it’s like to be in a hospital without enough nurses. “I remember last year, when I was a patient in a hospital for 6 weeks, flat on my back unable to do anything for myself, sometimes the nurse would come and sometimes the nurse would not.”

That’s a problem according to the Massachusetts Nurses Association and the Coalition for Patient Safety. They held a news conference Monday to pressure lawmakers to pass two pieces of legislation that would regulate the number of patients per nurse and prohibit mandatory overtime as a means of staffing hospitals.

22News spoke with Carol Ahern R.N., who works at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton. She said because they laid off some of their support staff, the nurses who are here are spread even more thin. “The nursing staff is now answering phones, passing out trays. It’s very difficult to do our daily job when we have to do these other insular jobs.”

Carol said so far, patient care at Cooley Dickinson Hospital hasn’t suffered, but it could, and that’s something that worries John Weissman of the Coalition for Patient Safety. “I came out of a major hospital in the United States with acquired infections. This was unnecessary according to these studies. If the ratio of staffing is correct, then the nurses on guard have the time rather than treating 6 to 10 patients has the time to pay attention to 4 or whatever the number appropriate to the ward.

But, in a statement released from Cooley Dickinson Hospital, they say regulated nursing ratios will not work. They say no two patients are alike, and no two hospitals are alike, so a broad set of rules will not work for all.

California is the only state in the nation to have a mandated ratio of nurses to patients; that law was passed 12 years ago.