Published Feb 17, 2000
This was sent to me via e-mail, just thougth I'd share it with everyone here
Safe staffing protects patients and saves lives!
Help pass the Patients' Bill of Rights (House Bill 661)
Healthcare corporations and HMO's have been cutting patient care with
disastrous results for patients, nurses, and all who work in healthcare.
It's time to stand up and do something to stop it. The Nurses Professional
Organization has initiated legislation to help.
Representative Joni Jenkins Stands Up for Patients
Representative Joni Jenkins has introduced House Bill 661 that will protect
patients, save lives, and return nursing decisions to nurses. There are
almost 60,000 nurses in Kentucky. If each nurse, healthcare worker, and
patient calls or writes her/his legislators, we can make this Patients' Bill
of Rights a reality.
The Patients' Bill of Rights (HB 661) Will:
- Mandate hospitals and nursing homes to staff according to acuity. They
would have to follow their own acuity based staffing plan and also make it
available to the public.
- Provide that the staff nurse who actually cares for a patient is the one
who does the assessment and assigns the acuity for each patient.
- Protect nurses from being forced to delegate nursing judgment and from
being forced to delegate to those who do not have the appropriate skills,
training, or expertise to handle a patient assignment safely.
- Require all hospitals to report to the Cabinet of Health Services their
mortality, morbidity, infection and injury rates. These statistics would
then be available to the public. (Currently consumers can find out more
about the car or appliance they are purchasing than they can find out about
the hospital or nursing facility they or their loved one is about to enter.
No one now has access to this information. NPO believes there is a direct
correlation between these rates and staffing. We believe that when there is
understaffing these rates go up and when there is good staffing these rates
- Assure Whistleblower protection. Protect the right of nurses, physicians
and other caregivers to advocate for their patients. No health care business
could discharge, demote, terminate a contract with, deny privileges to or
otherwise sanction a physician, nurse, or other caregiver for advocating in
private or public on behalf of patients or for reporting any violation of the
law to appropriate authorities.
- Provide protection against the discharge or reprimand of any nurse who
justifiably refuses to accept a patient assignment that is unsafe.
- Stop any financial incentives to physicians, nurses or other caregivers to
delay or deny the safe and appropriate care to which patients are entitled.
- Allow a nurse to refuse a patient assignment if her/his orientation,
education, and experience are not adequate to safely perform that assignment.
- Allow a nurse to refuse to be mandated to work overtime when the nurse's
ability to respond to the patients' needs may be compromised or jeopardized
by the nurse's fatigue and decreased alertness.
- Provide extra protection for the most vulnerable patients. Minimum,
acuity-based, staffing ratios are set for newborn nurseries, intensive care
nurseries, pediatric units, and pediatric intensive care units. These
staffing ratios are only minimum criteria and shall not release the facility
from the obligation to provide greater numbers of staff if the acuity of
patients calls for greater numbers of staff.
Nurses, healthcare workers and citizens must speak up to pass this bill.
Here's how you can help.
Take a few moments to write to your state representative and senator and let
them know from your own experience why Kentuckians need this law.
Many people do not know who their legislators are. You can find them on the
web at http://www.lrc.state.ky.us/. Or you can contact the NPO at (502)
459-3393, or call the county board of elections in your area. Give your
address and ask who your state representative and senator are in the Kentucky
To send mail to a legislator:
Senator or Representative (insert name)
Frankfort, KY 40601
Handwritten letters are very effective.
Phone Your Legislators
If you are unable to write, please at least take the time to call this toll
free number and leave a message for your state representative and senator.
The message line is staffed 7 AM -11 PM Mon. thru Thurs. and 7 AM - 6 PM on
Fridays. If you wish to speak to your legislators directly, you may leave a
message for them to return your call.
If you would like to go with NPO to Frankfort to speak with legislators, if
you would like a copy of the full text of HB 661, or if you want to help in
any way, please contact NPO.
Nurses Professional Organization, AFSCME
1169 Eastern Parkway, Suite 2200
Louisville, KY 40217
Phone: (502) 459-3393
Fax: (502) 459-3681
E mail: [email protected]
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