December 6, 2017

Coalition launches effort opposing mandated nurse staffing ratios

A coalition opposing nurse staffing ratios in Massachusetts says that state-mandated limits on patient loads do not make patient safer.

The Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association (MHA) and others have banned together to oppose efforts by the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) to mandate nurse staffing ratios in Bay State hospitals, according to a statement issued Tuesday.

A ballot question proposed by the MNA, the union representing nurses in the state, would require hospitals across the state adhere to strict nurse staffing ratios within all patient care areas. The MNA says this will protect patients, by reducing the burden on nurses, who they say often care for too many patients at once, leading to safety problems.

But the Coalition to Protect Patient Safety argues the bill doesn't make patients safer, and reduces hospitals' autonomy in managing staffing.

"This ballot question strips away nurses' ability to be flexible and adjust to life and death situations. It will completely undermine their input and expertise, and make them interchangeable parts in a healthcare system run by government bureaucrats," said Pat Noga, vice president of clinical affairs for the MHA.

The coalition includes other industry groups, such as the Organization of Nurse Leaders, the Massachusetts Council of Community Hospitals, and the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals.

The ballot initiative was filed this summer and wasn't the first time the MNA tried to get a nurse staffing ratio question on the ballot. The nurses filed a similar petition in 2013, but reached a deal with lawmakers, who enacted nurse-to-patient ratios in intensive care units in 2014.


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