Introducing the Safe Staffing for Nurse and Patient Safety Act


Advocating for and passing legislation that helps nurses and patients is a fundamental part of our Year of Advocacy. Nurses advocate every day for their patients, their communities and the profession, but it is also important that nurses lend their expertise to elected officials as they draft and pass legislation relevant to the nursing profession.

Earlier this month our bipartisan champions in the House of Representatives and Senate introduced a bill that will improve care and help keep nurses and patients safe. Champions including Reps. David Joyce (R-OH-14), Suzan DelBene (D-WA-10), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1), and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-2) as well as Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), came together to introduce the Safe Staffing for Nurse and Patient Safety Act of 2018 (S. 2446, H.R. 5052).

The bill requires hospitals to establish a committee, composed of at least 55 percent direct care nurses, to create nurse staffing plans that are specific to each unit. As nurses across the country know, patients risk longer hospital stays, increased infections, and avoidable injuries when units are understaffed. Understaffing also leads to lower nurse retention, higher rates of injury and burnout.

“RN staffing makes a critical difference for patients and the quality of their care,” said Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, president of the American Nurses Association. “Appropriate nurse staffing keeps patients safe and protects them from preventable complications, even lowering the risk of death. Nursing care is like medication—we would never withhold a medication when we know its lifesaving effects. The Safe Staffing for Nurse and Patient Safety Act empowers direct care nurses to determine the unique and variable needs of their patients to ensure the safety and quality outcomes of care.”

Our Congressional champions also understand why this legislation is so important.

“As a husband of a nurse, I have experienced first-hand the many challenges and responsibilities nurses face on a day to day basis,” said Joyce. “Ensuring patient safety and care has always been a priority but has faced many challenges when nurses are over worked and hospitals are under staffed. As Co-Chair of the House Nursing Caucus, I am proud to introduce legislation that addresses the issue and protects our patients and nurses.”

“As the husband of a nurse, I know firsthand the many challenges nurses face and how critical their care is to patients,” said Merkley. “Safe staffing enhances the quality of patient care, reduces medical errors, and increases nurse retention.”

But introducing this bill is just the first step. We need your help getting more cosponsors for this legislation – let your Senators and Representatives know why safe staffing is so critical. Click here to send them an email asking them to support this bill and be sure to include a personal note on why nurse-driven ratios are so important.

Author: John Richter

John Richter is an Advocacy and Engagement Specialist with the American Nurses Association (ANA). Before joining ANA, John was Public Policy Manager at WorldatWork, a Human Resources membership organization. Prior to his time with WorldatWork he held various positions on political campaigns and on Capitol Hill. John served on the staff of Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania from 2009 - 2014 and in the office of Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico from 2014 - 2017. In 2016 he served as Deputy Political Director for Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania and in 2008 he worked as a Field Organizer for the Colorado Democratic Party. John is originally from Scranton, Pennsylvania and received his MPA from Penn State University in 2012 as well as his B.A. in history and a B.A. in political science from Penn State in 2008.

1 thought on “Introducing the Safe Staffing for Nurse and Patient Safety Act”

  1. Thank you for going more in-depth with this proposed legislation – the email I rec’d earlier this week did not say how the staffing issue would be addressed in the legislation. I will call my senators today – the hyperlink to send an email directly to my senators is not secure, FYI.

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