Nurse-to-Patient Ratios Bill Introduced in the Pennsylvania House
Monday, September 26, 2011
House Bill 1874 Would Save Lives, Address Nursing Shortage, and Create Jobs
This morning, State Representatives Phyllis Mundy (D-120) and Deberah Kula (D-52) joined together to introduce a nurse-to-patient ratios bill in the Pennsylvania State House. This bill, modeled on California’s extremely successful 1999 law, would amend the Health Care Facilities Act to establish life-saving minimum nurse-to-patient ratios throughout the hospital.
Many scientific studies have shown that RN ratios both improve patient safety and reduce overall labor costs to health care facilities. Furthermore, since many hospitals are chronically understaffed, RN staffing ratios would create quality jobs and reduce nurse “burnout.”
“It’s important to note that retaining adequate nursing staff is crucial to good patient care, and that nurse-to-patient ratios are an important patient safety issue,” said Rep. Mundy. “I am very concerned that, in trying to pinch pennies wherever they can, some health care facilities are cutting nursing staff to unsafe levels.”
The Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP) is a strong supporter of HB 1874, and played an integral role in getting many of the 40 co-sponsors of the bill to sign on before it was introduced. The union of approximately 5,000 staff nurses and health care professionals have been longtime advocates for safe nurse-to-patient staffing ratios in health care facilities.
“Many of the issues we are faced with on the job are a direct result of poor staffing levels,” said Patricia Eakin, ER nurse at Temple University Hospital and statewide president of PASNAP. “When there is not enough staff, workplace violence against nurses is harder to prevent, talented RNs leave the profession because they simply burnout, and the quality of patient care is at risk because we just don’t have the time to do everything we would if we had safe ratios.”
This past February, State Senator Daylin Leach (D-17) introduced SB 438, the companion bill to HB 1874. “Various reports in recent years have shown that insufficient staffing has a direct correlation to patient lives lost, and one of the best ways to ensure Pennsylvania provides safe patient care and a healthy working environment for nurses is by implementing realistic and attainable staffing ratios,” said Sen. Leach. “By doing so, we can prevent avoidable mistakes and reduce the incidence of costly medical errors, protect patients, lessen nurse burnout and recruit new nurses in Pennsylvania. I am proud to sponsor this bill and pleased that my colleagues, Rep. Mundy and Rep. Kula, have jointly introduced a similar measure in the House of Representatives.”