Nurses call on lawmakers to “make patient safety the priority”

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 11.29.25 AMIn New Jersey, nurses are urging lawmakers to increase staffing levels at hospitals.

Nurses describe numerous incidences where nurses weren’t able go give patients the care they deserve. Maria Refinski, a New Jersey nurse, said she’s seen situations where five nurses were caring for 13 ICU patients. “These patients received adequate care, but barely, and certainly not the type of intensive care that they should have received that night,” she told the NJ Spotlight. 

Ann Twomey, president of the Health Professionals and Allied Employees union, told NJ Spotlight that current state regulations only mandate one nurse for the entire emergency department, while the proposed bill would mandate anywhere from one ER nurse for every one to four patients, depending on the patients’ condition.

Twomey also wrote an Op-Ed for Politicker NJ urging for improvements to safe patient standards.

Hospitals can be dangerous places. Medical errors have become the third leading cause of death in America. If we want to make hospitals safer, there is a large body of evidence—more than 30 studies in the past 20 years, pointing to one solution in particular: make sure there are enough nurses at the bedside.

For example, one study by Dr. Linda Aiken of the University of Pennsylvania Nursing School found that increasing the number of patients in a nurse’s workload by one led to a 7% increase in the likelihood that a patient would die within 30 days of admission.

Everyday, nurses and frontline healthcare workers care for their patients under conditions that make it difficult for them to provide safe and effective care. But instead of setting a safe and enforceable staffing standard for every hospital that would improve patient safety, the NJ Department of Health (DOH) allows each hospital to establish their own system of staffing – and far too often these systems are inadequate, inconsistent and poorly managed.


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