By Richard Asinof
CANTON, Mass. – In response to deteriorating patient care conditions in the state’s acute care hospitals, the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United announced that it is filing a ballot initiative, the Patient Safety Act.
The ballot initiative seeks to dramatically improve patient safety in Massachusetts hospitals by setting a safe maximum limit on the number of patients assigned to a nurse at one time, while also requiring hospitals to adjust nurses’ patient assignments based on the specific needs of the patients.
The filing of the initiative follows the release of dozens of prominent research studies and reports that show the need to set a maximum limit on the number of patients that can be assigned to each registered nurse in order to avoid mistakes, serious complications and preventable readmissions, the news release said.
“The research is clear and unequivocal, the most important factor contributing to the health and safety of patients while they are in the hospital is the number of patients your nurse is assigned to care for during his or her shift,” said Donna Kelly-Williams, president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United and one of the 10 original signers of the petition to establish the ballot initiative. “The fact is patients in our hospitals are at greater risk because they are being forced to share their nurse with too many other patients at the same time.”
While the nurses association has filed a companion bill in the legislature on this issue, the organization is pursuing a dual track by keeping the option open to take the issue directly to public via a ballot initiative should the Legislature not act.
“While we continue to push for a legislative solution, should the legislature fail to act, we are taking this issue directly to those who are most impacted and placed at risk by this issue – the voters,” said Kelly-Williams.