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YES on Question 1: Hospital executives continue to threaten and deceive voters with latest ad

Hospital executives continue to threaten and deceive voters with latest ad

Ad makes completely false claims about the impact of Safe Patient Limits on Emergency Departments


BOSTON – Today, the Committee to Ensure Safe Patient Care sent a letter to to Massachusetts media outlets fact checking false claims made by hospital executives backing the opposition to An Act relative to patient safety and hospital transparency (the Patient Safety Act). In a newly-released TV ad, executives threaten compromised care in the emergency department (ED) that would directly violate the law. The Committee to Ensure Safe Patient Care is calling on these media outlets to remove these ads, and for the hospital-backed opposition to provide substantiation for their blatantly-false claims. 

Download a copy of the letter.

The ad claims that emergency rooms will have to limit capacity, turning away up to 100 patients. This deceptive claim is a regular talking point for the hospital executive opposition in an attempt to scare voters. The claim is simply false and is blatantly misleading to the public.

The letter was sent to the following stations: NECN, WBZ-TV, WCVB, WFXT, WHDH, WBTS-LD, WSBK, WSHM, WWLP, WGGB-TV.

"It is absolutely unconscionable for hospital executives to continue to threaten people on this ballot question and to attempt to deceive the voters, straight to their faces," said Kate Norton, spokeswoman for the Committee to Ensure Safe Patient Care. "This opposition campaign has been funded by deep-pocketed hospital executives who throw a grenade of deception in hopes that people will latch on to their fear mongering without fact checking their claims. We think the voters are smarter than that, and frankly, they deserve better." 


"As an emergency department nurse for more than 30 years it simply defies common sense to claim that having more nurses on hand to treat patients in the ED would increase wait times or harm patients in any way," said Kathy Reardon, an ED nurse at Steward Norwood Hospital. "Studies show that more nurses means better care and shorter wait times. And my own experience as a nurse shows that with more support we can provide you with much better care."

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) passed by Congress in 1986 prevents emergency departments from turning away patients. 

"EMTALA requires hospitals with emergency departments to provide a medical screening examination to any individual who comes to the emergency department and requests such an examination, and prohibits hospitals with emergency departments from refusing to examine or treat individuals with an emergency medical condition (EMC)."

Furthermore, the Department of Health and Human Services has a “no diversion” policy which only allows the diversion of patients under extreme circumstances and calls for hospitals to develop comprehensive plan to deal with overcrowding.

"Effective June 1, 2009, ambulance services may honor diversion requests only when a hospital’s emergency department (ED)’s status is “code black,” which means that it is closed to all patients due to an internal emergency."

The letter to media outlets today also says:

Question 1 calls for nurses and management for every unit, including the emergency department to develop an acuity tool and hospital specific plans on how to meet the care needs of patients.  Nowhere in the law is there any requirement to reject care for a patient due to the limits.

Right now, Massachusetts hospital emergency department patients experience some of the longest wait times in the nation, ranking 48 out of 50 states, precisely because we don’t have enough nurses in our emergency departments to assess, help treat and stabilize patients; and too few nurses on the other floors of the hospital to allow those patients who are waiting to leave the emergency department to be moved onto one of those floors. This is validated by peer reviewed research demonstrating that excessive patient assignments are causing longer wait times for Massachusetts patients.  We also know that in in California, where they have had a similar law for 14 years, there are more nurses in their emergency departments and on their hospital units, and as a result, their wait times are 47 percent shorter than ours here in Massachusetts with better outcomes for those patients.

We believe these ads should be taken down immediately until the opposition can provide independent, verifiable information to support their position regarding the impact of nurse staffing on emergency department wait times.


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. The measure will be for voters’ consideration on the November 2018 ballot.



The Committee to Ensure Safe Patient Care is a broad coalition united in support of the Patient Safety Act, advocating for stronger patient outcomes, and consistency and accountability in our hospitals. The coalition is made up of advocates across Massachusetts, including registered nurses, patients and family members, health and safety organizations, community groups, unions and elected officials. For a full list of endorsers, please visit:


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