Ballot Question Would Set Nursing Levels
(SPRINGFIELD, Mass.) (WGGB)–There’s an ongoing debate in Massachusetts whether limits should be placed on the number of patients a nurse can be assigned to at one time.
The Massachusetts Nurses Association has filed a ballot initiative that would require one nurse for every four patients in medical or surgical units, one nurse for up to three patients in emergency departments and one nurse for every two patients in critical care units.
Nurses say the issue is patient safety,”As nurses, we’re looking at patient care, patient outcomes, and the hospital is looking at the income versus what’s going out, and we all realize that but there’s got to be some way we can manage that together and give good safe patient care,” says Sandra Hottin, a Registered Nurse and member of the Massachusetts Nurses Association.
But hospitals like Baystate Medical Center say it’s a bad idea,”It’s expensive, it’s unnecessary, and it impedes the effort to reform the way that health care is delivered in both the Commonwealth and on a national level,” says Steven Bradley, Vice President of Government and Community Relations and Public Affairs at Baystate Health Systems.
Bradley says the nurses are using scare tactics to get the initiative passed,”Tying to scare the voters into believing that health care in Massachusetts is poor, declining, and dangerous is really very unfortunate,” says Bradley.
But nurses disagree,”I don’t think it’s scare tactics at all, I think it’s a reality,” says Sandra Hottin, RN.
This staffing level issue has been debated before in the Massachusetts Legislature but no law has ever been enacted.
If this goes on the ballot, it would be the first time that Massachusetts voters would actually decide the matter in a referendum vote.