October 15, 2018

Narrow support among nurses for Question 1 in new poll

Photo/Grant Welker
UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester. The hospital's administration has warned against the negative effects of Question 1 but nurses are generally more evenly split.

Registered nurses in Massachusetts are mostly satisfied with their jobs and divided over a ballot question limiting how many patients can be assigned to each nurse in hospitals and health care facilities, according to new poll results.

The WBUR poll of 500 registered nurses found 48 percent support Question 1, 45 percent oppose it, while 8 percent don't know, are undecided or refused to answer the question. The 3 percentage point difference between nurses for and against Question 1 is within the poll's 4.4 percent margin of error.

Seventy percent of nurses polled by the MassINC Polling Group said they had not seen harm to a patient because of high staffing ratios where they work.

Asked about patient safety impacts at Massachusetts hospitals if the question passes, 49 percent of respondents said it would get better, 19 percent said it would get worse, 20 percent said "stay about the same" and 9 percent predicted a mixed outcome.

Forty-one percent said they were very or somewhat frequently assigned more patients than they can safely care for; 51 percent said they were either not very frequently or not at all frequently assigned more patients than they can safely care for.

Of those surveyed, 82 percent were floor nurses, 17 percent were nurse managers or supervisors and 1 percent identified as something else. Fifty-nine percent were not union members while 33 percent were Massachusetts Nurses Association members and 5 percent were members of another union.

The survey was conducted between Oct. 5 and Oct. 10. It found 57 percent of respondents were very satisfied with the job and 34 percent were somewhat satisfied. Ninety-three percent of respondents said they are very likely to vote.

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