Nurse Staffing Debate Turns to Beacon Hill Today

The Massachusetts legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Health holds a hearing today at 1 p.m. on the Massachusetts Nurse Association’s (MNA’s) ballot question to impose mandatory registered nurse staffing ratios.

Since the ballot question process in Massachusetts offers the legislature the opportunity to weigh in, all proposals slated for November are filed as legislation and a public hearing is required.

More than 100 healthcare professionals from throughout the state are expected to attend the hearing to show their strong opposition to the MNA proposal. Those testifying will include staff nurses, hospital leaders, behavioral health professionals, and research experts. The Joint Committee will hear about all the adverse effects of the proposed law, including its threat to patient care, the decision-making ability of nurses, and the stability of Massachusetts hospitals.

Over the years in attempting to make its case at the State House, the MNA has relied on strong photo-op staging. But from a science/fact point of view, the MNA has never been able to present an authentic study that endorses a specific nurse-to-patient ratio for all hospitals at all times. Such a ratio does not exist.

In California, the only state that has imposed mandated ratios, there is no evidence it has improved the quality of care. In fact, Massachusetts hospitals already equal or exceed California hospitals in nearly every meaningful measure of patient care.