Nursing Notes

July 8, 2011

Rep. Schakowsky Introduces Bill to Improve Patient Care & Curtail Nurse Shortage

Filed under: Nursing — Shirley @ 3:39 pm
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Here is an article from FierceHealthCare that I found about the government’s attempt to get nurses some protection and encourage nurses back into the profession.  On the one hand, I applaud the actual attempt to set some minimal staffing ratios for hospitals and nursing homes.

Nurses across the board are overworked and overwhelmed.  Nurses are leaving this profession in large numbers due to burnout, stress, fear of  being sued, fear of making a critical mistake and causing harm.  Nurses want to be able to help patients heal.  Period.

On the other hand, this article doesn’t really state what the actual bill would identify as a minimal staffing ratio.  Asking the administration of said hospitals to meet with staff nurses to determine minimum staffing is a joke.  That’s like telling the fox to guard the hen house.

Hospitals have to make a profit to stay in business, whether they are for-profit or not.  Nurse staffing is the singe largest expense that any hospital has after equipment.  There is no way that the hospital administrators will staff according to the nurses working for them.

Anyway, read this article and then let me know what you think, won’t you?


WASHINGTON, DC (June 15, 2011) – Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) today introduced legislation to address increasing hospital mortality rates and preventable medical errors caused by nurse understaffing. The Nurse Staffing Standards for Patient Safety and Quality Care Act of 2011 would establish a federal minimum standard in all hospitals for direct care registered nurse-to-patient staffing ratios.   The bill would greatly improve patient care while helping to restrict the nursing shortage that has left hospitals across the country dangerously understaffed.

“Nurses are overworked and hospitals are understaffed, leading to disastrous results for patients everywhere,” said Representative Jan Schakowsky.  “By creating a workplace in which nurses are asked to do the impossible, we drive nurses away and jeopardize the quality of patient care. The bill is a common-sense solution to improve the quality of patient care and address the nursing crisis in our hospitals.”

The Nurse Staffing Standards for Patient Safety and Quality Care Act of 2011 would require that hospitals work with their direct care nurses to develop safe staffing plans that meet but can exceed  minimum nurse-to-patient staffing ratios.  The legislation would provide whistleblower protection and give nurses the ability to speak out for enforcement of safe staffing standards.

The bill would also require the Department of Health and Human Services to consider staffing requirements for licensed practical nurses and the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission to recommend any changes in additional reimbursement needed due to the requirements of the bill.

A recent study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine (March 17, 2011), found that  “when the nursing workload is high, nurses’ surveillance of patients is impaired, and the risk of adverse events increases.”  Other studies found that understaffing was a factor in one out of every four unexpected hospital deaths or injuries caused by errors and result in higher incidences of cardiac arrest, pneumonia, urinary tract infections and complications

The legislation is endorsed by the AFL-CIO, the Service Employees International Union, the American Federation of State, Country and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the National Nurses United, the American Federation of Government Employees, the United Steelworkers, and the American Federation of Teachers.

Read more: Rep. Schakowsky Introduces Bill to Improve Patient Care & Curtail Nurse Shortage – FierceHealthcare


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