Safe nurse-to-patient ratios matter. Here’s how you can help make sure all hospitals in Minnesota have them.

In Minnesota, there are no limits on the number of patients a nurse can be assigned to at one time. And more than half of Minnesota nurses say patient safety has gotten worse in the past five years as a result of short staffing. Patients, nurses say, are suffering, due to medication delays, unanswered call lights, delayed care, and worse.

For more than a decade, Minnesota has legislated staff-to-child ratios for all child care settings, and defines them as “critical standards that ensure a minimum level of safety, supervision, and quality in child care.”

Shouldn’t vulnerable Minnesotans—those requiring hospital care—also have a minimum level of safety in hospitals?

Now, more than ever, we need to ensure that all hospital patients—whose lives are in the hands of nurses—receive a minimum level of safe, quality care no matter where they live and which hospital they go to.

The new mother in Bemidji giving birth for the first time. The elderly patient in Winona seeking care for complications associated with diabetes. The emergency department patient in Anoka suffering from an overdose. The eight-year-old child in Minneapolis undergoing treatment for a brain tumor.

Every patient—no matter their income, race, class, age, or if they live in Greater Minnesota or the Metro—deserves the safe, quality care that’s ensured through the same level of staffing standards at all hospitals.


Minnesota is no longer a leader in patient safety.

A recent survey by the Hospital Safety Grade ranked Minnesota 30th in the country for patient safety in our hospitals.

Half of the Minnesota hospitals surveyed received a “C” or below from the Leapfrog Hospital Survey Grade, which uses national performance measures to make its independent findings.

Hospitals are short staffing nurses. And patient care is suffering.

In 2017, nurses reported nearly 3,000 incidents where patients were harmed or at risk for harm due to short staffing by hospitals. Nurses are increasingly forced to accept more patients than they can safely care for at one time.

Minnesota doesn’t have a nursing shortage.  It has a staffing shortage.

The Board of Nursing is licensing more new nurses than there are open nursing positions in our hospitals, but Minnesota still ranks in the bottom half of the country for nurse-to-patient ratios. (Source: Supply and Demand Projections of the Nursing Workforce: 2014-2030, National Health Workforce Analysis.)

Studies show a direct correlation between nurse staffing and a decreased risk of mortality.

For every one patient increase in a nurse’s workload, there’s a 7 percent increased patient mortality risk. (Source: The Lancet, Volume 383,  May, 2014)

Studies show nurse staffing decreases risk of hospital-acquired infections. 

The CDC estimates that 2 million US patients suffer hospital-acquired infections each year, and 20,000 die as a result.  Studies also show a significant association between safe patient-to-nurse ratios and reduced surgical site infections. (Source: American Journal of Infection Control, August 2012)

Let quality of care determine nurse staffing.

Minimum staffing levels would establish the minimum number of RNs in units based on the number of patients and their acuity while still allowing hospitals to move staff where they’re needed most.

What about cost?

The average cost per incident of preventable harm is approximately $58,776 per injury. Unsafe care can also cause patients to suffer longer healing times, extended hospital stays, readmissions, and lost work time. Short staffing costs hospitals and patients money.  Staffing standards saves money and lives.


Sign the petition and tell your lawmakers you want safe, quality care NOW!

Patient Story

arlene townsend staffing award

Unsafe staffing costs a Florida facility $1 billion

From Trial Magazine, March 2014 issue: Trial Magazine, 3/11/14 VERDICTS & SETTLEMENTS Arlene Townsend, 63 suffered a stroke and required 24-hour care. She was admitted to Auburndale Oaks Healthcare Center, a nursing home owned by Trans Healthcare, Inc. In the three years leading up to her death, Townsend suffered numerous fall resulting in broken bones and lacerations, infections, significant weight loss, chronic constipation, skin breakdowns, dehydration, and other problems. She is survived by her adult son. Townsend’s estate sued Trans Healthcare, alleging that it had understaffed the nursing home to increase profits and failed to provide adequate care, including protecting Townsend from falls, ensuring a safe environment, and documenting changes to her condition. The court entered a judgment of liability against the defendant, and the…
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