SILVER SPRING, MD – The American Nurses Association (ANA) applauds the introduction of The Safe Staffing for Nurse and Patient Safety Act of 2018 in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The legislation requires Medicare-participating hospitals to form committees, comprised of at least 55 percent direct care nurses, to create and implement unit specific nurse-to-patient ratio staffing plans. This staffing approach will benefit patients, registered nurses (RNs) and hospitals by decreasing adverse health events, nurse turnover, and costly hospital readmissions.
ANA and sponsors Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH) have been long-time champions for The Safe Staffing for Nurse and Patient Safety Act of 2018 (S. 2446, H.R. 5052) because of its economic and clinical value. Rep. Suzan K. DelBene (D-WA-1), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-2) and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1) co-sponsored the legislation.
“RN staffing makes a critical difference for patients and the quality of their care,” said ANA President Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN. “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.”
Research has shown that adding RNs to unit staffing decisions can reduce the length of stay for hospital patients as well as the risk of adverse events, such as falls, injuries, infections and bleeding. Increasing the number of RNs can yield a cost savings of nearly $3 billion – the result of more than 4 million avoided extra hospital stays for adverse events – and lower costs from hospital readmissions.
The Safe Staffing for Nurse and Patient Safety Act of 2018 not only considers the complexity and stability of patients, but also nurse experience, available technology, resources and unit workflow such as numbers of admission, discharges and transfers. To date, seven states have enacted safe staffing legislation using the committee approach: Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.
Addressing nurse staffing is a top priority for ANA. In addition to advocating for legislation at the state and federal levels, ANA leads multiple initiatives to achieve safe, appropriate nurse-to-patient staffing in all health care settings. This work underscores the importance of evidence-based staffing decisions, driven by nurses who understand the dynamic nature of patient care.
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The American Nurses Association (ANA) is the premier organization representing the interests of the nation's 4 million registered nurses. ANA advances the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting a safe and ethical work environment, bolstering the health and wellness of nurses, and advocating on health care issues that affect nurses and the public. ANA is at the forefront of improving the quality of health care for all. For more information, visit www.nursingworld.org.