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  1. Nurses comment every day on social media about staffing issues. I just wish they’d take it one step further. Words matter—but action is your true power. Action—as in organizing to educate yourselves. Action— as in showing up to a 2-day event, NursesTakeDC, a Conference with CEs and a Rally/Lobby Day on April 21-22, 2020. Action— as in then meeting with your legislators to convince them why they must pass federal legislation to support nurses staffing ratios—and acuity. Because the complaining on social media just becomes background noise. And I want you to —ROAR. Then you will be heard. Professor Linda Aiken's Study on Nurse Staffing Another way to take action is happening right now in Illinois and New York—nurses pay attention! Could you tell all your Illinois and New York APRN, RN and LPN colleagues to complete Professor Linda Aiken's study survey on the quality of nurse staffing in Illinois and New York? Did YOU complete it? Only 8,361/180+k nurses in IL and 14,226/334+k in NY responded to the email survey as of December 20th. Less than a 5% response rate. I’m quite shocked. And angry. And this is why. Why Should You Respond to a Survey? In Illinois, we’ve had the Nurse Staffing by Acuity Act since 2008 - A law that states hospitals must purchase an acuity tool and form staffing committees comprised of bedside nurses and management. A law without any penalty to somehow enforce hospitals to comply. As a result, few hospitals do in fact comply. In fact, the ANA-IL collected data from nurses to show just how unsafe staffing is in Illinois. And NursesTakeDC completed a survey concurrently with ANA-IL which duplicated similar results for Illinois. How Can Nurses Fight for Safe Staffing Laws? So what is the answer to move us forward? How can nurses fight for safe staffing laws? I believe it’s by mandating safe staffing ratios that include patient acuity and penalties if hospitals do not act in good faith. The ANA and the AHA state its laws are like Illinois’s. Illinois nurses say—No way! We are attempting to pass the Illinois Bill HB2604 Safe Patient Limits Act, similar to California nurse to patient ratio legislation from 2004. Illinois and New York nurses must tell their state legislators their unsafe staffing stories—like I did with the NPR affiliate interview with Philadelphia's WHYY and Chicago's WBEZ. However, how can nurses impact on safe nurse staffing if nurses in Illinois and New York choose NOT to be a part of Professor Aiken’s survey study? An evidenced-based nursing study— which we, as nurses, have a responsibility to participate in. We are expected to advocate, impact and improve patient safety, as well as our own profession of nursing— on healthcare policy in Illinois and New York. These 2 states have pending legislation, HB2604/S.1908 in Illinois and A2954/S1032 in New York. Illinois and New York Nurses Should Complete the Survey All Illinois and New York nurses should complete the email survey, not just hospital-based nurses. Even currently inactive and retired nurses who are holding an active license to practice. Please remember—it as an independent, objective research project— to inform the policy debate about patient to nurse ratios in Illinois and New York. Additionally, a large part of the study is to link your responses with actual patient outcomes. Please complete the study survey, your voice does count. Search Your Email The email survey is from the National Council on State Boards of Nursing and the respective state’s Board of Nursing—IDFPR in Illinois and NYSEOP in New York. Make sure you search your email— all folders including, the junk folder for NCSBN. It was sent to the email you used when you renewed your license. Please do this and be a part of history—evidenced-based research on the quality of nurse staffing in Illinois and New York. You Can Affect the Future of Nurse Staffing Finally, your participation may have implications for the future of nurse staffing in all states. Imagine that. You will be a part of evidenced-based research on healthcare policy and nurse staffing. Here’s your chance now. So—what’s stopping you? And get yourselves to NursesTakeDC. Now. Your inaction is deafening. It silences your voice. Make it heard. Doris Carroll BSN, RN-BC, CCRC Illinois Nurse https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/2581/text https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/1357/text https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/1357/all-inf allnurses.com Illinois Nurse Staffing Survey https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/fullscreen/62266590/the-nursing-voice-december-2018/ Bill Status Illinois State House Bill HB2604 NPR - Why Mandated Nurse-to-Patient Ratios Have Become One of the Most Controversial Ideas in Health Care Illinois Nurses Push for Safe Patient Limits, Working Conditions New York State Senate Bill S1032
  2. NursesTakeDC had one purpose: to support the Federal Legislation for National Nurse-to-Patient Ratios S.1063 & H.R.2392 Nurse Staffing Standards for Hospital Patient Safety and Quality Care Act of 2017. These bills support mandated nurse to patient ratios. Doris Carroll, BSN, RN-BC, CCRC is one of the faces and organizers of NursesTakeDC. She is also the Vice President of the Illinois Nurses Association and she is an administrative nurse at the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System. At the recent NursesTakeDC rally in April, where nurses gathered in the Nations' Capitol to advocate for safe nurse-patient ratios, Nurse Beth from allnurses. com talked with Doris Carroll who stated, "It's time we do something. We need to take charge of our profession. Some of our nurses have 3 and 4 patients in the ICU... Nurses need to understand that we are so powerful at almost 4 million strong across the country, yet we can't seem to unify around the most dangerous part of our jobs which is unsafe staffing. What we want to do is empower nurses. This movement is comprised of both non-union and union nurses. It doesn't matter where you come from or what kind of nurse you are. What matters is that you do and say something to change things. is not just about nurses, it's about our patients. We must let the public and legislators know that patient acuity ratios affect patient outcomes." Nurse Beth, who is from California stated, "Some of these ICU nurses have 3-4 patients. This is unheard of in California where we've had nurse ratios for 14 years. What would you advise nurses to do?" Doris responded, "Find out who your senators are - talk to them about acuity-based nursing ratios in language they can understand. Relate it to their family - I might not be able to get to their Mother or Father in a timely manner when they need help; when they cry out for pain medication or if they fall on the floor. Encourage your legislators to co-sponsor nurse ratios laws." She went on, "It doesn't matter whether you are union or non-union, we want our patients to be safe. Educate other nurses that acuity-based ratio staffing will help the nurses to remain at the bedside caring for patients." Currently 14 states have staffing ratios: 7 states require hospitals to have staffing committees responsible for plans (nurse-driven ratios) and staffing policy - CT, IL, NV, OH, OR, TX, WA. CA is the only state that stipulates in law and regulations a required minimum nurse to patient ratios to be maintained at all times by unit. MA passed a law specific to ICU requiring a 1:1 or 1:2 nurse to patient ratio depending on stability of the patient. MN requires a CNO or designee develop a core staffing plan with input from others. The requirements are similar to Joint Commission standards. 5 states require some form of disclosure and / or public reporting - IL, NJ, NY, RI, VT Nurse-patient ratios are an extremely important issue for nurses as well as patients. Improving safety and reducing errors as well as improving job satisfaction are all tenets of nurse-patient ratios. In 2014, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation cited a statistic that almost one out of five new nurses leave their first job within the first year of gaining licensure as a nurse. If that is not worrisome enough, one out of three leaves the profession within two years of beginning their nursing career. Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the US. Patient safety is the most important reason to improve and mandate nurse-patient ratios. In order to reduce patient errors, there needs to be more nurses at the bedside. One study found that for every one additional patient added to a hospital staff nurse's workload is associated with a seven percent increase in hospital mortality. A study published in 2014 in the Lancet showed, "An increase in a nurses' workload by one patient increased the likelihood of an inpatient dying within 30 days of admission by 7%." Doris Carroll concluded, "We are educated and professional and we care about our patients." Thanks to Doris Carroll and Nurse Beth for their informative interview. Now...we all are being tasked to talk to the public and our legislators. [video=youtube_share;5H2LCDSuEPY] References: ANA - Nurse Staffing Nearly One in Five New Nurses Leaves First Job in One Year Nurses Take DC Position Paper Nurse staffing and education and hospital mortality in nine European countries: a retrospective observational study Third Leading Cause of Death Doctors
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