Nurses push for safe staffing in Minnesota, Oregon, and New Jersey

Nurses across the country are pushing lawmakers and hospitals to create safe patient standards that could protect patients from adverse events due to low nurse staffing levels. Nurses say patients are increasingly at risk because many hospitals aren’t scheduling enough nurses for duty.

Changes in new health care laws, technologies, and patient maladies mean many nurses are working harder than ever. And many are doing it with an increased patient load, according to data collected by nurses in hospitals across the country.Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 11.00.17 AM

In Minnesota, nurses met with lawmakers at the Capitol on Tuesday to discuss why a Safe Patient Standard can reduce the number of adverse events in Minnesota hospitals. The Minnesota Department of Health recently studied how low nurse staffing levels affects patient outcomes, relying on data to be distributed by 40 hospitals in the state. While only 1 of the 40 hospitals selected for the study supplied the necessary data, the Minnesota Department of Health still found “strong evidence” that correlates patient mortality, failures to rescue, and patient falls with poor staffing levels.

In New Jersey, a bill that mandates new, more extensive nurse staffing levels at hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, and other health care facilities was supported by nurses and opposed by hospitals at a legislative hearing Monday afternoon, according to NJBIZ. “New Jersey laws and regulations governing patient safety have failed to keep pace with changing technology, nurse practice, and the health care needs of our patients,” says Ann Twomey, a nurse representative.

Oregon nurses are also pushing for a safe staffing meausre that could give them the ability to have as much say as hospital administration in their staffing levels. The goal is to ensure that hospitals aren’t jeopardizing patient care with inadequate staffing, nurse representative Sarah Baessler told The Register Guard. “Staffing in hospitals is getting worse, not better,” Oregon Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson told the Register Guard. “We should empower the (hospital) staffing committees, improve transparency and bolster enforcement.”

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