Massachusetts Mandatory Minimum Nurse Staffing
As of today, California is the only state requiring mandatory minimum nurse staffing. However, in November, Massachusetts citizens will vote on a ballot question as to whether mandatory nurse staffing should be required in that commonwealth.
There are vehement forces on both sides of this referendum question. One physician wrote an article published in Becker’s Clinical Leadership and Infection Control that mandatory nurse staffing ratios will hinder emergency department care. This physician believes that the existing processes are effective, that the mandate would force hospitals to cut their work force and nurse/patient ratios would fuel premature discharge and emergency room waiting times would increase.
Other oppositional arguments include that it would cost hospitals too much money and would even put some hospitals out of business. This is concerning to me as it clearly puts profits over patients’ wellbeing. Clearly, there is evidence to support that increased nurse/patient ratios improve patient care. After all, this is what health care should be about.
Rural communities also are concerned about not being able to hire enough nurses.
Some initiatives moving forward to help with the nursing shortage include an app that allows a nurse staffing agency to fill shifts on demand because this way, nurses at the facility will not be required to pull a mandatory double or overtime.
Nurses are very creative in coming up with solutions to problems such as these. However, patients must come first!
If you live in Massachusetts, I urge you to vote “yes” on this issue next month. It has made a huge difference for nurses in California and I think the same would be true for those professionals in Massachusetts. See interview with Sharon Dopak, a nurse from California.
What are your thoughts? Any comments you would like to make are welcomed below.