‘Urgent patient safety crisis’ hangs in the balance
Registered nurses from across Illinois gathered in the state capital of Springfield last Wednesday to encourage state legislators to support the Hospital Patient Protection Act.
The Act would mandate minimum nurse-to-patient ratios at all times.
“Mandatory minimum nurse-to-patient ratios save lives,” said Talisa Harden, a registered nurse at the University of Chicago Medical Center. “As nurses, we’ve always known it, and now there is a robust body of peer-reviewed literature that proves it. Illinois patients deserve safe and therapeutic care no matter where they are admitted. This bill will make all Illinois patients safer.”
Rep. Theresa Mah is sponsoring House Bill 3585, and Rep. Will Guzzardi is a cosponsor, while Sen. Omar Aquino is sponsoring the senate version, Senate Bill 650, with Sen. Robert Peters cosponsoring.
Currently, there are no federal mandates regulating the number of patients a registered nurse can care for at one time at U.S. hospitals. California is the only state that has mandated nurse-to-patient ratios throughout all hospital units and studies have shown that these ratios save lives.
While the proposed Illinois legislation is modelled after the California mandates, it goes even farther to become a gold standard for ensuring patient safety. The Illinois legislation would also mandate minimum staffing standards in long term acute-care hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers. Safe staffing is also critical for the health and safety of nurses.
“Nurses who have too many patients are vulnerable to higher rates of on-the-job injuries and are more prone to make errors,” said Theresa Ivery, a registered nurse at Jackson Park Hospital in Chicago. “Our bill will make our hospitals safer for both patients and nurses.”