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MI Needs a Safe Staffing Law NOW!

The Safe Patient Care Act will fix a deadly problem

State Rep. Jon Switalski and State Sen. Rebekah Warren have introduced legislation in the House (HB 4311) and Senate (SB 228) to solve a problem that virtually every nurse in Michigan has encountered: the failure of hospitals to provide enough nurses to give every patient safe care, every time. 

If someone is hospitalized, it is because they require round-the-clock nursing care and are in need of procedures that they cannot do themselves at home.

Yet, as nurses experience on a regular basis, hospitals often purposely fail to meet their obligation to provide adequate levels of nurse staffing. This comes even at a time when the hospital industry remains highly profitable.

The result? Nurses are routinely stretched too thin, taking care of too many patients. They’re forced to work past the point of exhaustion. No matter how hard nurses work, they often can’t provide safe care for every patient.

This routine practice is dangerous, and hospitals know it. Years of reliable research has established the link between low staffing and increased patient infections, falls, medication errors and even patient deaths.

Click here to send an email to your state legislator or senator!

Click here for scientific research linking safe nurse staffing to patient safety

Click here for the Safe Patient Care Act fact sheet.

Safe staffing is truly a matter of death

Michigan’s Safe Patient Care Act would replace hospitals’ empty promises for better staffing with a requirement that they develop and implement a written staffing plan that includes minimum nurse-to-patient ratios in each unit.

The hospitals would have to establish staffing committees, made up of at least 50 percent nurses, to create and evaluate the plan.

The ratios in the legislation are:

  • Critical care - adult or pediatric: 1 to 1
  • Operating room: 1 to 1
  • Labor and delivery:
    • during second and third stages of labor: 1 to 1
    • during first stage of labor: 1 to 2
    • intermediate care newborn nursery: 1 to 3
    • noncritical antepartum patients: 1 to 4
    • postpartum mother baby couplet: 1 to 3
    • postpartum or well-baby care: 1 to 6
  • Postanesthesia care unit: 1 to 2
  • Emergency department:
    • nontrauma or noncritical care: 1 to 3
    • trauma or critical care patient: 1 to 1
    • one RN for triage
  • Stepdown: 1 to 3
  • Telemetry: 1 to 3
  • Medical/surgical: 1 to 4
  • Pediatrics: 1 to 4
  • Behavioral health: 1 to 4
  • Rehabilitation care: 1 to 5

Hospitals that do not submit staffing plans or violate the ratios would be held accountable with substantial fines.

The law would also ban hospitals from using mandatory overtime as a strategy to deal with their failure to plan for safe staffing.

Hospitals would save money in the long run, studies show. They can recoup their initial investment in staff through shorter lengths of stay, decreased re-admissions, fewer complications, less nurse turnover, and reduced legal liability for all the things that go wrong in hospitals with low nurse staffing.

In the years since California enacted a nurse-to-patient ratio law in 2004, we have plenty of data to evaluate whether such a law works. Simply put, California is a success story. According to studies, patients are safer, the quality of nurses has not gone down, and a nursing shortage has not emerged because with better staffing, the state is a more attractive place for nurses to work.

Every Michigan resident deserves to receive safe patient care at every hospital, every time. Michigan’s nurses are simply asking for our leaders’ support to make that happen. The Safe Patient Care Act is that simple solution.

Click here to send an email to your state legislator or senator!

Click here for scientific research linking safe nurse staffing to patient safety

Click here for the Safe Patient Care Act fact sheet.