Contact: Sara Wallenfang, 517-974-4966
RNs demand a law to fix understaffing at Michigan Hospitals
(Lansing, MI) Over 500 nurses and nursing students from across the state rallied on the Capitol steps today in support of the Safe Patient Care Act. The law is needed because Michigan’s Registered Nurses are frequently forced to care for too many patients at once in Michigan hospitals or work past the point of exhaustion.
“Understaffed hospitals put our patients are at risk. We are fed up with policies that prioritize profits at the expense of the people in our care,” said John Armelagos, RN and President of the Michigan Nurses Association. “We, as nurses, need a law so that we can provide the best care possible and protect patients from harm.”
The Safe Patient Care Act would ensure that every hospital in Michigan is a safe environment for patients by limiting the number of patients a nurse can be assigned at one time. It also limits mandatory overtime so that our loved ones aren’t under the care of nurses too exhausted to work safely. It also requires hospitals to disclose their RN-to-patient ratios, so that the public knows whether staffing meets safety standards.
Years of scientific research prove the link between inadequate RN staffing and preventable poor outcomes for patients, including increased falls, infections, medication errors and even deaths.
“It is frustrating, and at times terrifying, when I have to scramble to protect my other patients from a potentially violent patient,” said Jennifer Eyre, an ER nurse in Lansing. “This is not a rare, freak occurrence. Hospitals should staff with this likely scenario in mind. But it will take the Safe Patient Care Act to set standards and make it happen.”
Last session, the Safe Patient Care Act had bipartisan support in both chambers of the Legislature. A new bipartisan package is expected to be introduced soon in the Legislature to force hospitals to address dangerous RN understaffing and be more transparent.
“Chronic understaffing forces an agonizing choice: burnout or escape. It is unsurprising, and very sad, that so many nurses are fatigued and disconnected or are fleeing the profession at alarming rates,” said Donna Heinrich, an RN from Traverse City. “The Safe Patient Care Act will foster the retention of good nurses by creating an environment where nurses can fulfill their promises to our patients.”