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.
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