From January 1 through June 30, Minnesota nurses submitted 1,382 Concern for Safe Staffing forms, citing incidents were patient care was compromised or at risk due to short staffing by hospitals. Under the Minnesota Nurse Practice Act, nurses are obligated to advocate for patients in situations that may threaten their safety by reporting incidents to management. In addition, the Minnesota Nurses Association also provides nurses the opportunity to further report incidents so the organization can track and identify trends and issues related to short staffing.
So far this year, nurses reported to MNA 1,382 incidents, including delays in patient care and medications, inability to answer call lights, and incomplete discharge teaching.
In Minnesota, there are no limits on the number of patients a nurse can be assigned to at one time. Issues related to short staffing have been on the rise in the last five years, with 2016 seeing a record 3,000 Concern for Safe Staffing forms submitted by nurses.
At the bargaining table, nurses are trying to advocate for safe nurse-to-patient ratios with hospital management, but hospitals aren’t budging. Last year, Allina refused to include safe nurse-to-patient ratios in new contracts. And across the country, as short staffing becomes a growing concern as hospitals cut corner to focus on profits, nurses are striking to demand hospitals protect patients by observing safe nurse-to-patient ratios.
Recently, in Massachusetts, where hospitals refused to limit patient assignments, nurses have filed a petition to propose minimum nurse staffing levels on the 2018 ballot. “It would set safe limits to the number of patients that are assigned to a registered nurse at one time in the hospital setting,” said Donna Kelly Williams, president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association. “It’s specific to each specialty area.”
Minnesota nurses have also asked lawmakers to support and protect patients. Nurses and lawmakers are advocating for the Quality Patient Care Act, which would require hospitals to maintain a minimum number of trained nursing personnel to care for the number of patients at that facility. The number of nurses on duty would vary by department as well as patient census.
Nurses know that safe nurse-to-patient ratios save lives. In fact, for every one patient increase in a medical / surgical nurse’s workload, there’s a 7 percent increase risk of patient mortality, according to a recent study. In addition, nurse staffing is directly associated with a reduction in medical errors, hospital readmissions, and preventable adverse events such as patient falls, pressure ulcers, central line infections, and patient mortality. According to researchers: “Higher registered nurse staffing was associated with less hospital-related mortality, failure to rescue, cardiac arrest, hospital acquired pneumonia, and other adverse events.”
Learn more about how you can support safe, quality care for all Minnesota patients.