News & Events

Senate Passes Landmark Measure to Protect Patients by Setting Safe Patient Limits for Nurses in all Intensive Care Units

Measure Now Moves to the Governor

CANTON, Mass. – The Massachusetts Senate cast a unanimous vote today to pass a landmark measure that will codify in state law safe patient limits for registered nurses who work in all the state’s hospital intensive care units, ensuring that no nurse can be assigned more than one patient or in certain circumstances, no more than two patients based on the assessment of the nurses on that unit.

The Senate vote follows a similar vote in the House yesterday and now moves to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.

"This is a landmark victory for patient safety.  I applaud the House of Representatives and the State Senate for their leadership and work on behalf of Massachusetts patients,” said Donna Kelly-Williams, RN, president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United following the vote. We thank Leader Rosenberg, Senate President Murray, Speaker DeLeo and Representative Denise Garlick for their leadership." This measure will protect the most critically ill patients in our hospitals and moves us closer to our ultimate goal, which is to extend these limits in all hospital units to protect all patients.”

State Representative Denise Garlick, RN said "The historic passage of this landmark legislation is testimony to the leadership of Speaker DeLeo and Majority Leader Rosenberg who seized the opportunity to ensure quality care for patients in ICUs in all hospitals. Their steadfast commitment to finding solutions is in the very best interest of the patients of the Commonwealth in both our teaching and valued community hospitals.”

If the bill is signed into law before July 2, the MNA/NNU has agreed to pull its ballot initiatives — the Patient Safety Act and the Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness Act.  The MNA/NNU has gathered more than enough signatures to place both measures on the ballot this November.

“If signed by the Governor, this law breaks the decade-long logjam on Beacon Hill over the issue of establishing an enforceable maximum limit on the number of patients a nurse can care for at one time.” said Kelly-Williams.