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Advocates Urge PA Lawmakers to Pass Patient Safety Act


Thursday, June 23, 2022   

Since the beginning of the pandemic, several states have passed "safe staffing" laws aimed at balancing patient-nurse ratios in hospitals. In Pennsylvania, health care advocates are calling on lawmakers to vote on legislation still stalled in committee.

Senate Bill 240, also known as the Patient Safety Act, would establish limits to the number of patients one nurse is responsible for during a shift.

Maureen May, president of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, said it is about ensuring positive outcomes for patients.

"I want to be in a hospital bed in which I know that there are enough nurses to care for me and my family members," May asserted. "I want to be a nurse that works in a hospital and walks away from the bedside at the end of the day and know that I did everything I could to make sure my patients received the best care possible."

Many health care system administrators oppose safe-staffing legislation, saying it is costly to their bottom line. Senate Bill 240 and its companion House Bill 106, which has more than 100 co-sponsors, have been referred to each chamber's health committees and await a vote.

Sen. Maria Collett, D-Montgomery County, said the pandemic exposed the cracks in the health care system and the need for legislation such as the Patient Safety Act. She stressed it has been disappointing to see the legislation stalled by a few lawmakers, given the bipartisan support for the bill.

"If you're someone that's not going to stand with nurses, that's not going to stand with patients, then put your name on the record," Collett urged. "Vote no on this bill because the people in our communities deserve to know where we stand when it comes to protecting patient outcomes and protecting the hardworking nursing staff."

A 2017 study found patients were much more likely to survive when nurses followed a hospital-mandated patient-nurse ratio. Lower patient-to-nurse staffing ratios also have been associated with significantly lower rates of cardiac arrest, hospital-acquired pneumonia, respiratory failure and patient falls.

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