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.