TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz is sponsoring legislation that would require hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities to form committees that would create and implement nurse-to-patient ratios as part of staffing plans. Nurses would comprise at least 55 percent of the committee.
“Nurses have a profound effect on the quality of care patients receive, and they know better than politicians in Trenton how to maximize the care they are providing,” said Munoz (R-Union). “A one-size-fits-all approach could be a fatal conceit if mandated by the state. The nurses tending to patients know the unique and ever-changing needs of the people they care for.”
The bill is modeled on bipartisan federal legislation, The Safe Staffing for Nurse and Patient Safety Act of 2018. It would enable health care facilities to maximize the efficacy of their nurses, allowing those who work at the facilities to consider the experience of nurses, technology, available resources, and a mutual workflow that benefits nurses and patients alike.
“Ensuring nurses have input on staffing decisions makes nurses more effective and improves patients’ care, that’s the bottom line,” said Munoz. “We need to increase the number of nurses, but they shouldn’t be considered second class employees who can’t make responsible decisions for their patients. They’re pretty darn good at saving lives.”
Research shows that increasing nurse input in staffing decisions can reduce the length of patient’s time in care and mitigate the risk of adverse events, according to the American Nurses Association. Cost savings can be as much as $3 billion as a result of more than 4 million patients possibly avoiding longer stays due to an injury or infection.
Seven states use the committee approach to nurse staffing, including Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.