New Senate bill to require hospitals to publicly report nurse-patient ratios

Thinkstock | iStock
Thinkstock | iStock

Nurse-patient ratios have been something of a hot-button issue for quite a while now, particularly as studies show that lower ratios can save lives. And now a new Senate bill may require hospitals to publicly report these nurse to patient numbers.

The Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act of 2014 (S. 2353) does not set a federally mandated minimum nurse-patient staffing ratio, but it does require unit-by-unit reporting of the ratio by all hospitals.

Currently, California is the only state with mandated minimums for nurse-patient ratio. However, Massachusetts voters will decide if their state will implement a minimum when they vote on the Patient Safety Act this fall. It’s possible the Massachusetts legislature could pass the law before that.

The American Nurses Association (ANA) supports the new Senate bill, stating it doesn’t force a one-size-fits-all approach of mandated minimums.

“What works in a rural hospital in my hometown [in North Dakota] may not be the same thing in an urban trauma center,” said Jerome Mayer, associate director of the Department of Government Affairs at the ANA, according to “It allows flexibility and it also allows buy-in.”

What do you think? Will mandated minimums help you do your jobs better? California nurses: Have you seen a difference since the minimums were mandated? Let us know!

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