Ballot Question is Technically Correct (But Still Bad for Patients)

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled last Monday that an initiative petition imposing inflexible nurse staffing ratios on all hospitals would proceed to the ballot. 

The Coalition to Protect Patient Safety had argued that the proposed ballot question from a nursing union representing less than one-quarter of the state’s RNs was drafted incorrectly and should be disallowed.  (The SJC also ruled that the Attorney General was correct in refusing to certify another ballot question related to staffing ratios.)

The Coalition said of the decision, “It’s unfortunate that any version of this measure passed technical legal muster, but we understand that the justices’ hands were tied and note their reasoning, ‘That the full consequences of the proposed act would be fleshed out after its passage does not render its form improper.’  Our campaign is dedicated to presenting the full consequences of this question. Nurses delivering care across the state have reviewed the ‘mandatory and inflexible’ ratios in this ballot initiative and their negative impacts on the way nurses deliver care. They are joining our effort to defeat this proposal because rigid, government-mandated staffing ratios take decision making away from nurses and put in it the hands of the government at a price tag of more than $1 billion annually, a cost everyone will share in the form of higher insurance premiums and taxes. We look forward to sharing the perspective of nurses with the voters on why this is bad for patients, bad for nurses, and bad for hospitals in Massachusetts.”