WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) in reintroducing the Nurse Staffing Standards for Hospital Patient Safety and Quality Care Act.
Brown and Schakowsky’s bill would set minimum nurse-to-patient staffing requirements, study best practices for nurse staffing, and provide whistleblower protections to protect the right of nurses to advocate for the safety of their patients. Currently, no rules exist to establish minimum staffing levels at hospitals, which can put patients at risk and often forces nurses to care for too many patients at one time without enough support. Studies have shown that lower nurse-to-patient ratios are associated with lower mortality rates. Brown’s bill directs hospitals to develop and implement nurse staffing plans that ensure quality care and patient safety.
“Nurses work long hours doing vital work in our health care system – their jobs are critical to keeping patients safe and providing the highest quality care,” said Brown. “But too often, nurses are stretched too thin, caring for too many patients with not enough support. We can prevent that by ensuring nurses are adequately staffed, and protecting their ability to go to hospital management, without fearing potential retaliation.”
“This National Nurses Week, I am proud to once again reintroduce the Nurse Staffing Standards for Hospital Patient Safety and Quality Care Act with my friend Senator Brown,” said Rep. Schakowsky. “Safe staffing levels save lives. Numerous studies have shown that safe nurse-to-patient staffing ratios result in higher quality care for patients, lower health care costs, and a better workplace for nurses. This bill will improve the health of patients by improving nursing care—establishing minimum registered nurse-to-patient ratios in hospitals, protecting the rights of nurses to advocate on behalf of their patients, and investing in training and retaining nurses to address the nationwide nursing shortage. It is past time that we act on the evidence and give nurses the support they deserve, and put patients over profits. I will continue to partner with nurses across the country in promoting this bill and fighting to end dangerous staffing. ”
The Nurse Staffing Standards for Hospital Patient Safety and Quality Care Act would also provide educational support for nurses through an expansion of the nurse retention grant and support for the nurse workforce loan repayment and scholarship program.
Brown’s bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Rep. Schakowsky has introduced the House version of the bill.
National Nurses United, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and AFSCME have all endorsed Brown’s legislation.
“National Nurses United is proud to endorse the Nurse Staffing Standards for Hospital Patient Safety and Quality Care Act. Registered nurses are on the front lines of caring for our patients at the bedside, and yet we are often unable to deliver the care that patients need because hospital administrators dangerously under-staff our facilities. We know from numerous scientific studies, and from the results of the landmark nurse-to-patient ratios state law in California, that mandatory, minimum nurse-to-patient ratios save patients’ lives and improve quality of care, while also reducing nurse burnout and keeping experienced nurses at the bedside. NNU commends Senator Brown and Congresswoman Schakowsky on their leadership on this issue, and urges all Members of Congress to cosponsor this vital legislation,” said Bonnie Castillo, RN, Executive Director, National Nurses United.
“Every day, thousands of nurses report to work around the country and are overwhelmed by their patient load. They balance care, paperwork, and the near-constant demands of their job, terrified that there are too many patients and not enough nurses, and that fear can impact their ability to provide their patients with what they need. For some, the greater fear is in speaking up: when they do advocate for safer nurse-to-patient ratios, they are retaliated against, targeted, and are the subject of discipline from their bosses. This threat to nurse safety is ultimately a threat to patient health: safe staffing levels make workplaces safer, and that makes patient outcomes better. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, halving the nurse-to- patient ratio can account for a significant decrease in patient deaths per every 1,000 patients. Safe, welcoming workplaces are critical for every member of our union, and for the people we serve. This Nurse Appreciation Week, we must do everything we can to stand up for the people who have devoted their careers and their lives to taking care of others. Thanks to two of our greatest champions, Sen. Brown and Rep. Schakowsky for honoring and respecting our country’s nurses with a bill to keep them safe on the job, and in turn, protect the people they care for, too,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.
Brown and Schakowsky are reintroducing the bill during National Nurses Week, which started in 1993 after the American Nurses Association declared May 6-12 as the national week to celebrate nurses and the nursing profession. Each year, National Nurses Week ends on May 12 to mark Florence Nightingale’s birthday.
Read more about Brown and Schakowsky bill HERE.