Opposition to government-mandated nurse-to-patient staffing ratios knows no geographic boundaries. Last week the New Jersey State Nurses Association (NJSNA) – representing about 125,000 RNs in the Garden State – came out solidly against proposed state legislation that would establish minimum nurse-to-patient ratios.
Judith Schmidt, NJSNA’s CEO, said, “Ratios are rigid and dictate a set number of staff, which is not the best model for optimal patient care, which constantly changes. We need to give the nurses at the bedside the authority and the accountability for staffing their units as needed.”
In Massachusetts, the nursing union representing less than 25% of the RNs in the state is proposing a ballot question for the 2018 election that would impose government mandated registered nurse staffing ratios on every hospital in Massachusetts at all times. Interestingly, the ratios proposed in Massachusetts are different than the ratios contained in the New Jersey proposed bill, which are different from what the only state with mandated ratios (California) passed. The proposals differ because no existing scientific study has determined a conclusive nurse-to-patient ratio.
“Staffing is not about a specific number, but the appropriate mix of how sick the patients are, which dictates how much care they need, plus the level of experience of the nurse,” said New Jersey’s Schmidt in a statement.
Leading healthcare organizations – representing nurses and hospitals – are united in their opposition to government-mandated nurse staffing ratios. The Coalition to Protect Patient Safety was created to oppose the 2018 statewide ballot question. It currently consists of: MHA, The Organization of Nurse Leaders, American Nurses Association -- Massachusetts, Massachusetts Council of Community Hospitals, and the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals. Other healthcare leaders, business groups, and those concerned about maintaining and improving the Massachusetts healthcare system are expected to join the Coalition in the coming months. You can follow the Coalition to Protect Patient Safety on Facebook