A 2015 report from Pennsylvania’s Joint State Government Commission highlights the urgent need for more nurses and legislated nurse-to-patient ratios.
HARRISBURG, PA – The Joint State Government Commission released its findings regarding the state of bedside nursing in Pennsylvania and the results are clear – not only is our state lagging behind the rest of the nation in numbers of registered nurses per patient, but we are sorely in need of a public policy to regulate staffing.
“Nurses have been working for years to implement safe, concrete nurse-to-patient ratios in our hospitals and other healthcare facilities,” said Nurse Alliance of SEIU Pennsylvania Director Deb Bonn, RN. “This report confirms our worst fears — that not only are our patients underserved by our current staffing levels, their lives may be in danger as a result.”
The commission’s study, PROFESSIONAL BEDSIDE NURSING IN PENNSYLVANIA: A STAFF STUDY, outlines the correlation between nurse staffing levels and patient outcomes, hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), readmissions, falls, decreased patient satisfaction, and nurses’ job dissatisfaction, burnout, and workplace injuries. The report goes on to cite California as a model of best practices when it comes to creating public policy.
“California is the only state that mandates minimum nurse-to-patient ratios by law and their residents are seeing the results,” said Bonn. “Nurses in California log 10 hours of direct patient care per day, as opposed to 7 hours here in Pennsylvania. That’s below the national average and it’s our patients who suffer.”
House Bill 1426, co-sponsored by State Representative Eugene DiGirolamo (R-18) and State Representative Adam Ravenstahl (D-20), is a bi-partisan effort that would set safe nurse-to-patient ratios for Pennsylvania facilities and allow them to be adjusted for acuity. The Nurse Alliance and other Pennsylvania nursing organizations and unions have endorsed the legislation.
Unlike similar staffing committees-based legislation, HB1426 would have enforceable measures, transparency in reporting staffing levels, and protections for nurses who would report poor staffing levels in their facilities.
“Safe staffing saves lives,” said Neal Bisno, President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania. “This important and timely report underscores that it is long past time for Pennsylvania to enact strong legislation setting minimum nurse-to-patient ratios that all hospitals must follow.”
“For years we’ve been calling for legislation to outline safe nurse-to-patient ratios and now this report reaffirms what nurses like me see every day in our units,” said Paula Stellabotte, a registered nurse at UPMC Altoona. “Maybe now Harrisburg will act to set things right.”