As incidents related to short nurse staffing in hospitals are on the rise, lawmakers across the country are introducing bills to protect patient safety. This week, lawmakers in Minnesota introduced the Safe Patient Standard Bill in the Minnesota House. The bill would set a minimum standard of staffing for nurses that would be flexible enough for each department and floor in each hospital in Minnesota.
Numerous studies show a direct link to patient outcomes and nurse staffing. A recent study of hospitals in California, Nevada, and Maryland reveals that increases in nurse staffing levels improves quality of care, reduces adverse events, and decreases length of stay. And a study released earlier this year by the the Minnesota Department of Health found that poor nurse staffing levels are correlated to patient mortality, failures to rescue, and patient falls in Minnesota hospitals.
“Frontline nurses are worried about their patients,”said Linda Hamilton, RN, BSN, president of the Minnesota Nurses Association. “They know patients are ringing their call lights. They know patients are waiting or they’re not being assessed properly. We’re not delivering the safe, quality care that Minnesotans expect and deserve.”
The SPS bill would establish a state workgroup that would determine a minimum standard of staffing for each unit for various hospital sizes. Where patient care is typically more acute, such as in an intensive care unit (ICU), staffing would be higher than in a unit with typically lower acuity, such as an orthopedic unit.