<<The Public Shows Overwhelming Support For Patient Safety Measures
New York, NY - April 16, 2002 - According to a poll conducted for the New York State Nurses Association by Zogby International, an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers support initiatives designed to improve patient safety and to help them make better-informed decisions about their health care.
"Recent events have increased public awareness that nurse staffing makes a vital difference when you're in the hospital," said Tina Gerardi, RN, NYSNA Deputy Executive Director. "The results of this poll indicate that New Yorkers want to know staffing levels are adequate and that healthcare professionals are able to provide quality care."
According to the poll of 705 registered voters in New York State, nearly two out of five believe the quality of health care has worsened over the past five years, three times the number that feel it has improved. An overwhelming 90% agree that healthcare facilities should be required to issue "report cards" that disclose data about as staffing levels, skill mix, and patient complications related to the quality of nursing care.
Seven in ten of those responding to the poll also believed the state should establish consistent, enforceable staffing guidelines for healthcare facilities. State law currently requires hospitals to provide "sufficient staffing to meet the immediate needs of patients" but does not define "sufficient" or provide a method to measure adequacy of care.
The poll also revealed widespread support for a ban on mandatory overtime for nurses, with more than 60% of respondents favoring such a measure. They agreed that hospitals and nursing homes should not force nurses to work beyond their regular shifts when there is no emergency.
"It's clear that voters want the Legislature to take action on these issues," said Gerardi. "The current system is not working. Short staffing is putting both patients and nurses at risk. Mandatory overtime contributes to medical errors and nurse burnout. New Yorkers need to know that when they check into a hospital, there will be enough nurses to care for them."
NYSNA has proposed three key legislative initiatives related to these issues:
Disclosing staffing ratios -
Appropriate staffing affects patient outcomes. This legislation would require hospitals and nursing homes to disclose and report nurse-to-patient staffing ratios and the mix of
licensed and unlicensed personnel. It calls for facilities to disclose patient outcomes, such as incidence of bed sores and patient falls, that indicate the quality of nursing care. A.2581 (Gottfried) - Floor Calendar, S.510 (DeFrancisco) - Health Committee
Establishing safe staffing guidelines -
Legislation would create staffing standards in hospitals and other healthcare settings. NYSNA has introduced legislation that would require the state to establish staffing guidelines that would be used by facilities to create consistent, enforceable nurse-to-patient ratios. A.9073-B (Gottfried) - Ways & Means Committee, S.4779 (Hannon) - Health Committee
Prohibiting mandatory overtime -
Mandatory overtime is dangerous for both nurses and patients. This bill prohibits employers from requiring nurses to work beyond their regularly scheduled shifts. This is a "zero tolerance" measure - except in declared emergenies, there would be no mandatory overtime for nurses. A.7127 (Nolan) - Codes Committee, A.9731 (Barra) - Labor Committee, S.3515 (Morahan) -Labor Committee.
Five hundred nurses and nursing students were at the state capitol in Albany on Tuesday to ask legislators to support this legislation.
SUMMARY OF POLL RESULTS
Thinking about the last five years, has the quality of health care in New York state's hospitals, nursing homes, and schools gotten better, gotten worse or stayed pretty much the same?
-The same 40%
-Not sure 10%
Do you agree or disagree that health care facilities should be required to issue "facility report cards" that disclose to the public data about the quality of their nursing care, such as patient-to-staff ratios and patient complications like bed sores, infections, or medication errors?
-Not sure 3%
New York State requires healthcare facilities to provide "sufficient staffing to meet the immediate needs of patients" but does not define "sufficient" or provide a method to measure adequacy of care. Do you think New York State should develop consistent, enforceable staffing guidelines to ensure safe nurse-to-patient ratios or do you think that it should be left up to each health care facility to determine its staffing needs?
-NYS should develop guidelines 71%
-Leave it up to healthcare facilities to
determine staffing needs 22%
-Not sure 5%
The government has stepped in to prohibit employers of airline pilots and long-haul truckers from forcing their employees to work extra shifts because of the risk to the public of errors made by exhausted workers. Do you think New York State should prohibit hospitals and nursing homes from requiring nurses to work beyond their regular shift when there is no emergency or do you think hospitals and nursing homes should be able to require nurses to work overtime whenever the facility thinks it is necessary?
-Prohibit hospitals and nursing homes from
requiring nurses to work overtime 61%
-Health care facilities should be able to require
nurses to work overtime when necessary 30%
-not sure 7%
Conducted March 4-6, 2002 by Zogby International, 705 New York State registered voters.
Percentages are rounded off to the nearest whole number and may not equal 100.
For more information regarding the Zogby poll, contact
NYSNA Communications & Publications
11 Cornell Road, Latham, NY 12110
(518) 782-9400 Ext. 275/ 1-800 724-6976