News & Events

RNs from throughout the Northeast Region Join Ballot Initiative Petition Drive for Safe Patient Limits in Mass. Hospitals

What:       Following the Secretary of State’s release of the official ballot initiative petitions, the Campaign for Safe Patient Care will launch its drive for the 70,000 signatures needed to place the Patient Safety Act on the 2018 ballot.

Local nurses and patient advocates will be joined by nurses from five states, including Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Advocates will be out at local polling places to collect signatures and will be available for interviews by local media about the initiative and how patients suffer when nurses have too many patients to care for at one time.

Who:        Members of the American Federation of Teachers Chapters in New Jersey and Connecticut, the New York Professional Nurses Union, United Nurses and Allied Professionals of Rhode Island and the Pennsylvania Association of State Nurses and Allied Professionals.

When:          Tuesday, September 26, starting at 8 a.m. until 10 a.m.

Where:        Outside Boston polling locations, including Florian Hall, 55 Hallet St. Dorchester; and the James Condon Elementary School, 200 D. Street, Boston.

About the Patient Safety Act:

The Patient Safety Act will dramatically improve patient safety in Massachusetts hospitals by setting a safe maximum limit on the number of patients assigned to a nurse at one time, while providing flexibility to hospitals to adjust nurses’ patient assignments based on specific patient needs. Currently there is no law and there are no requirements for hospitals to provide an adequate level of nursing care in such areas as the emergency department, medical-surgical floors, maternity units or psychiatric units.

The initiative is supported by a broad coalition from across Massachusetts, including registered nurses, patients and family members, health and safety organizations, community groups, unions and elected officials.

The filing of the ballot initiative follows the release of dozens of prominent research studies and reports that show beyond any doubt the need to set a maximum limit on the number of patients that can be assigned to each registered nurse at one time if we are to avoid mistakes, serious complications and preventable readmissions. Currently in Massachusetts, outside of intensive care units, there is no law and there are no standards in existence for the number of patients that can be assigned to a nurse at one time, and there are no requirements for hospitals to provide an adequate level of nursing care. It is not uncommon for nurses in Massachusetts to have six, seven or even eight patients at a time, when a safe number of assigned patients would be no more than four patients for a nurse on a typical medical/surgical floor. 


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Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is 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.