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Latest News - April 2014

April 15, 2014
Nursing organizations take opposing positions on mandatory staffing ratios
Source: Biz Journal
By: Jim Schakenbach

The state’s two major nursing associations — the 23,000-member Massachusetts Nursing Association/National Nurses United and the 1,300-member Massachusetts Association of Registered NursesRegistered Nurses — are taking opposing positions on the section of a proposed ballot question that would mandate nurse/patient staffing ratios at the state's hospitals. 

While both organizations stress their first concern is patient safety and improving care, they disagree on the need for strict regulations of hospital nursing staff levels.

The ballot initiative, The Patient Safety Act, proposed by the MNA/NNU, seeks to regulate the number of hospital patients that can be cared for by nurses at any one time. The nurses union says the move would dramatically increase safety for patients.

However, according to MARN president Tara Tehan, her group opposes mandated nurse staffing levels because it would restrict nurses’ ability to maintain flexibility in delivering care to patients. Both nursing organizations emphasize the need to develop safe-staffing plans but disagree on the method to determine necessary staffing levels.

“MARN does support safe staffing,” said Tehan, “but we need an approach that ensures that patients are safe and nurses have the ability make those decisions to keep patients safe. We truly believe the ballot initiative removes nursing’s autonomy to do that.”

MNA/NNU president Donna Kelly Williams disagrees, stating that hospital patients should be able to expect a basic level of care to be assured their safety is not compromised. She cites Massachusetts' high number of readmissions as proof that patients currently are not receiving the best possible nursing care.




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