New York State Assembly Passes Bill Requiring Minimum Nurse Staffing Ratios in Hospitals and Nursing Homes
The Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act, was passed by the NY Assembly that requires every hospital and nursing home in New York State to adopt minimum staffing requirements and establish nurse-to-patient ratios in all nursing units. This is a bipartisan bill in the State Legislature with wide support. The bill also requires that every healthcare facility submit annual staffing plans to the NYS Health Department and allow nurses to refuse assignments if the minimum staffing requirements have not been met.
Nurse staffing ratios have a direct impact on patient safety and the number of patients assigned to a nurse directly impacts the quality of care that each nurse can provide. New York is facing a staffing crisis in hospitals across the state. Nurses are being forced to care for more patients which in turn pushes nurses and patients to the limit.
In some cases, nurses in New York are being forced to handle over a dozen patients at one time. When that happens, patients suffer. Studies show the risk of patient death increases by 7% for each new patient over 4 a nurse must care for. Nurses have been petitioning and rallying for years to have safe nurse to patient ratios in hospitals and healthcare facilities. Although there are 33 members sponsoring the bill, the Senate is not expected to approve the bill at this time.
California is currently the only state in the US that has enacted legislation for nurse staffing ratios in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
The legislation will ensure that there are an adequate number of nurses at the bedside of patients inside New York hospitals. Among other things, this legislation will:
- Establish safe nurse-to-patient ratios for nurses in units at all New York hospitals.
- Require hospitals to staff units using nurses that are trained for care in that unit. For example, nurses in the ER should be trained in ER care.
- Require hospitals to be more transparent about their staffing levels.
- Set a maximum number of patients a nurse is responsible for at any given time.
The NYS Campaign for Patient Safety has been fighting on behalf of nurses in New York and support the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act. The NYS Campaign for Patient Safety is a coalition of consumer, labor, patient advocacy and community organizations committed to fighting for the highest quality patient care for New York’s hospital and nursing home patients. They believe one of the most critical aspects of ensuring quality patient care is implementing minimum standards for how many patients a single nurse can treat at one time.