Oregon Passes Groundbreaking Nurse Staffing Law

Oregon passed a historic bill that establishes strict and manageable nurse-to-patient ratios along with other protections to ensure patient safety. News

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As of June 23, 2023, the Oregon House and Senate have passed a historic bill that establishes strict nurse-to-patient ratios and other protections to ensure safe patient care.

The first of its kind in any state, House Bill 2997 outlines specific nurse-to-patient ratios by state statute in 12 acute care settings. Oregon currently has ratios that are determined by staffing committees made up of managers and workers. This bill outlines specific unit guidelines for staffing ratios such as ICU 1:2, ER 1:4, Med/Surg 1:4, and more. The bill also includes CNA ratios.

These set ratios must be upheld at all times so nurses can take uninterrupted meal breaks with a designated nurse covering their assignments, and hospitals can face a fine for missed breaks.

The bill also includes staffing input from other modalities of care, such as service and maintenance workers, professionals, and technicians, through the creation of new staffing committees. 

A grace period is included to allow hospitals to hire staff to meet these new requirements.

Why HB 2997 Is Important

Healthcare professionals are leaving the profession at an alarming rate, with many citing the impossible workload as a reason. A recent study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that more than 30% of nurses who left the bedside did so because of burnout and increasing demands placed on bedside nurses since COVID.

HB 2997 aims to improve working conditions by setting safe ratios and giving time to allow nurses to provide the quality care they strive to give.  This, in turn, is hoped to improve staff retention and career longevity.

The nursing unions were integral in gathering support from politicians, hospitals, and healthcare organizations to create partnerships to help this unprecedented bill pass. 

This bill is just the beginning of creating sustainable healthcare for years to come. Other states have similar bills in the lobby stage. 

Be informed about your state laws and guidelines regarding healthcare workers. Let your voice be heard by your state representative to ensure safe and practical ratios in every state. Together, change is possible. 

Jennifer Romans has 22 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Health Writer, Registered Nurse.

1 Article   16 Posts

Hopefully this new bill will be effective in diminishing nurse burnout. It has been much needed. Thank you for this well written article. 

Specializes in Emergency Room, CEN, TCRN. Has 5 years experience.

My ER used to be 3:1 ratio but now my employer is citing this law and making us go 4:1 

kinda sucks to get worse ratios out of this deal when all the other floors are staying the same or getting better ratios ngl 

Specializes in Operating Room. Has 9 years experience.

Which states are in the lobby stage/headed toward this same end? Thanks!