Pennsylvania House approves bill to require nurse staffing minimums in hospitals

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PA Senate has a Republican majority, will be difficult to get legislation approved; if it passes, fully expect PA Governor Shapiro to sign it. Once passed, will join California as only states with specific staffing-level requirements for nurses in hospitals.  PA nurses have been working on various staffing legislative bills for over 12 years; the Patient Safety Act  is latest effort and closest movement in legislature.  It has been promoted by both PA State Nurses Association (PSNA)  and nursing unions:PASNAP, SEIU Healthcare PA,  nurses of PA. Karen

Philadelphia Inquirer  June 28, 2023

Pennsylvania House approves bill to require nurse staffing minimums in hospitals



The Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved a bill that would require nurse staffing minimums in hospitals, bringing the state closer to enacting a measure that proponents said will address patient safety and help retain nurses in bedside jobs.

The Patient Safety Act would make Pennsylvania among the nation's first states, behind California, to enact specific staffing-level requirements for nurses in hospitals. Nurses' unions have advocated for the measure, which many hospital systems and trade groups oppose. Critics say the requirements are unrealistic and may force rural and small hospitals to reduce services or even close.

The measure passed in a 119-84 vote. More than a dozen Republicans joined the Democrats who voted in favor of the bill on Wednesday afternoon.

Rep. Tarik Khan, a Democrat representing parts of Northwest Philadelphia, spoke about his time as a hospital nurse. He said that nurses juggling too many patients are prone to errors.

"Nurses like me know all too well the fear of going to work and feeling like they're going to harm a patient because of the effects of unmanageable workloads,” Khan told the chamber....

...California is the only state that currently mandates nursing levels. The law took effect there in 2004 and it did not lead to the negative fallout that opponents feared, Linda Aiken, director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania, told the committee in a hearing last month. She noted that Pennsylvania has sufficient registered nurses, just not enough nurses providing patient care in hospitals.

Her analysis of the bill found that if Pennsylvania hospitals had the staffing levels it would require, the state could prevent 1,155 hospital deaths and 771 hospital readmissions every year.

Oregon lawmakers passed a nurse staffing-ratio bill last week.


In a surprise move,  Penn Medicine CEO Kevin Mahoney supports the bill

Penn Medicine CEO supports staffing minimums for nurses, breaking with his peers



Nurses in leadership position from nearly every other hospital system in the region signed a letter opposing the Patient Safety Act.

...The Penn Medicine executive first expressed his support in an opinion piece published Sunday on the PennLive/The Patriot-News website -(Nurses are screaming for help; lawmakers should listen | Opinion) . "We believe safe staffing standards will help relieve nurse burnout, improve care for patients and create better work environments to attract and retain dedicated frontline caregivers,” Mahoney cowrote with Penn nursing professor Linda Aiken.

Dozens of nurses in leadership positions in health-care systems statewide signed a letter opposing the measure prior to the House vote. The June 14 letter was addressed to General Assembly leaders from both parties, according to a copy obtained by The Inquirer.

"If strict, government-mandated [registered nurses] staffing ratios are required in Pennsylvania, we believe that there will be real and lasting damage to Pennsylvania's entire health care system,” the nurses wrote.

Among those who signed on are nurse managers and chief nursing officers from most other Philadelphia-area hospitals, including Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Jefferson Health and Einstein, Main Line Health, Temple Health, Nazareth Hospital, and St. Luke's.


PA nurses can TAKE ACTION by contacting their legislators to support this bill using PSNA link.

Further info available at:

Nurses' organizations in unprecedented collaboration to pass safe staffing legislation

Specializes in Health Writer, Registered Nurse.

This is an important step in sustainable nursing jobs and career longevity in a healthcare system on the brink of crisis.

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