News & Events

Nurses to Testify Tuesday, Oct. 4 on Potentially Dangerous State Proposal That Could Allow Unlicensed People to Administer Medication in All Health Care Settings

What:      A public hearing by Gov. Charlie Baker’s Board of Registration in Nursing (BORN) on proposed regulation changes that could open the door to the health care industry using unlicensed people to administer medication to patients in all Massachusetts health care settings, including intensive care units, acute care hospitals and long-term care facilities.

When:     9 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016

Where:   239 Causeway St., 4th Floor, Boston, MA

Why:      Right now, except in two limited circumstances, only licensed nurses are allowed to administer medications to patients in every setting. Nurses, with years of training and practice, are not only skilled at safely administering increasingly complex medications, but are experts at accurately assessing a patient’s reaction to the medications and providing appropriate follow-up care.

BOSTON, Mass. – Nurses from across the Commonwealth will attend a public hearing on Tuesday to express their concerns about patient safety regarding a proposal by the administration of Gov. Charlie Baker that could allow unlicensed people to administer medication in all Massachusetts health care settings.

“At a time when medical errors are already the third leading cause of death in the United States, this proposal could make a serious health care problem even worse,” said Donna Kelly-Williams, an obstetrical and neonatal registered nurse at Cambridge Hospital and president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA). “Nurses have extensive education and training in physiology and anatomy, which allows them to properly administer medication to patients in all health care settings and guard against harmful outcomes.”

As frontline nurses, we have witnessed the impact of health care deregulation over the last several years and how the health care industry has used deregulation to degrade the quality and safety of patient care,” Kelly-Williams said. “Experienced skepticism shows us that even small amounts of ambiguity in state regulations can open the door to industry misbehavior. In health care, that can be the difference between safe treatment and harm, between life and death.”

The Massachusetts School Nurse Organization (MSNO), a non-profit representing hundreds of school nurses, school administrators, public health nurses, practitioners, consultants, educators and retired school nurses, has also expressed serious concerns about the regulations as drafted.

"As a licensed professional nurse in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I have grave concerns if unlicensed personnel – in any healthcare setting – are allowed to administer certain medications,” said MSNO President Carilyn Rains, M.Ed, BSN, RN. “As school nurses, we are continually advocating for the health and safety of school age children who should be receiving the highest standard of care."

The proposed changes by the Board of Registration in Nursing have prompted widespread outrage among nurses and supporters. The MNA and its allies have taken or will take the following actions:

·        A petition urging Gov. Baker to stop these regulations in their current form and ensure safe medication administration for all Massachusetts patients has been signed by more than 10,400 people.

·         Thousands of nurses, both MNA members and non-union nurses, have reached out to the MNA with concerns about the proposed regulations. Nearly 100 of these nurses are expected to attend the BORN hearing on Tuesday.

·       Also testifying will be MNA President Donna Kelly-Williams; Rep. Denise Garlick, D-Needham, a registered nurse; MSNO President Carilyn Rains, M.Ed, BSN, RN; Brigham and Women’s Hospital emergency department RN Stacy Brady; Carol Mallia, RN, MSN, MNA associate director of nursing.

·         Ahead of the Oct. 11 deadline for public comment on the regulation proposal, the MNA will submit written testimony detailing specific wording changes that nurses have identified and wish to see incorporated in the final draft of these regulations.

“As a nurse and a mother, I know the safety risks of unlicensed medication administration,” said BWH RN Stacy Brady. “My 11-year-old daughter was recently given two wrong vaccines by an unlicensed person at my doctor’s office. If I had not caught the mistake, she would have been vulnerable to infection for many years. Imagine what could happen if unlicensed people administered medication in every health care setting in Massachusetts.”

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Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is the largest the largest union of registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its 23,000 members advance the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Legislature and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public.