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ANA Backs Federal Nurse Staffing Bill

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, May 27, 2014

A Senate bill calls for unit-by-unit staffing plans and publicly reporting those staffing plans, but stops short of dictating mandated nurse-patient ratios.

Federal requirements for unit-by-unit staffing plans and publicly reporting those staffing plans are at the heart of the newly introduced Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act of 2014 (S. 2353), which stops short of dictating across-the-board, mandated, nurse-patient ratios.

Crafted with input from the ANA, the legislation is sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and is companion legislation to a House bill introduced a year ago, the Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act of 2013 (H.R. 1821).

Jerome Mayer, associate director, Department of Government Affairs at the ANA, tells me that the ANA isn't "directly opposed" to the kind of mandated nurse-patient ratios that California has in place and that some nurses in Massachusetts are fighting for (and against).

"But we think we have a more pragmatic approach," which is outlined in the new legislation, Mayer says.

That approach does include staffing ratios, but they would be set by the nurses themselves and would vary by unit and even by shift.

The bill would require hospitals to establish committees that would create unit-by-unit nurse staffing plans based factors such as the number of patients on the unit, severity of the patients' conditions, experience and skill level of the RNs, availability of support staff, and technological resources.

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12 comments on "ANA Backs Federal Nurse Staffing Bill"


beth (6/3/2014 at 12:15 PM)
I am a nurse in California, but I came from new Jersey originally, and was a travel nurse for 3 years. California has patient mandated ratios but have been taking away support staff. They also have a way to rate a patient on acuity levels. It's called pch. Patient care hours, so we rate a patient on various factors, blood transfusion, how many trips for medications ect. Sometimes it works and other times it doesn't. Staffing tries to staff us appropriately but issues do arise, finding a nurse to come in to work. Last minute call outs ect.. the other thing is we use to have a nurse that covered our brakes and lunch break for each wing, so they also used to know what was going on and assist with appropriate placement of new patients, a little old grandmom should not he at the end of the hall far from the nurses station! Unfortunately they changed that to one for the entire floor. If a worker doesn't get there break in california the company can be fined 2000 An incident. If we don't have a break we get paid extra money for not being able to get one. In nj you try to get a break but alot of the time you don't get one. When a nurse goes to break another nurse has to cover that nurse making that nurse have 10 to 12 patients. Nothing like being a pt. In pain and your nurse is at break and the other nurse is covering 11 other patients in pain or in need of that nurse. It all comes down to money, CEO s of hospitals make alot of money and yet we can't get proper ratios to safely take care of you, or your family member. Then when something unfortunate happens it's the nurses fault, we went to school to be a nurse to care for people not make mistakes and cause more issues. I take care of people over my own needs. That's just how I am. I actually CARE!!! LIKE THE PERSON WAS MY FAMILY MEMBER!

Geoffrey Page (6/2/2014 at 3:45 PM)
Sorry,hospitals need to be run as a business which includes making all decisions without interference. Should we have laws that tell GM how to run their business? Laws directing healthcare businesses on their operations are improper.

Sheryl Weersing (5/31/2014 at 4:13 AM)
We can't afford to wait a decade for safe nurse:patient ratios, it's been too long already. Patients are dying or being injured while hospitals have these committees that they don't listen to. Safe staffing MUST be mandatory or hospitals will continue to ignore the needs of the patients. As others have said acuity needs to be taken into account. And support staff is also critical, RN's are having to do the work of clerks, housekeeping, CNA's, security etc which all takes us away from the patient. The fact that the ANA has been so slow to endorse safe staffing is no surprise as they have ignored the staff nurse for way too long.