Nurse-to-patient ratio mandate coming to Massachusetts ballot

iStockphoto | ThinkStock
iStockphoto | ThinkStock

Staffing laws that regulate nurse-to-patient ratios have been a hot topic among nurses for some time, and next year may see Massachusetts become the next state to enact specific minimum ratios.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association has collected enough signatures to place a measure on the 2014 ballot that would regulate how many patients can be assigned to one nurse, according to CBS News. If the measure passes, it would make the state the 14th in the U.S. to enact some form of staffing laws for nurse-to-patient ratios, according to the American Nurses Association.

Currently, federal law has a somewhat vague requirement that hospitals that participate in Medicare must “have adequate numbers of licensed register nurses, licensed practical (vocational) nurses, and other personnel to provide nursing care to all patients as needed.” But California is the only state that currently requires an actual required minimum ratio to be maintained at all times in every unit. The other 13 states that currently have state laws governing staffing either require hospitals to house a staffing committee that sets policy or require some form of disclosure and/or public reporting.

Additionally, the Massachusetts Nurses Association collected enough signatures to place another question on the ballot that would require hospitals to disclose financial holdings and limit CEO salaries.

Are mandatory staff ratios the way to provide better care and make workplaces safer for nurses and patients alike? Do you work in a facility that is governed by state regulations? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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