Quality Patient Care Act
Minnesota’s registered nurses know firsthand that the quality of patient care drops as the number of patients each nurse cares for at one time increases. Nurses see short staffing every day — the intentional scheduling of an inadequate number of nurses to safely care for the number of patients and their conditions. Nurses know this is done for one reason only: it’s a cost-cutting move at the expense of patient care and safety.
Minnesota needs to pass legislation that will protect patients by establishing safe nurse-to-patient staffing levels for all Minnesota hospitals. Safe staffing levels would be modeled after research by professional nursing organizations, but they are not one-size-fits-all. They would be scaled according to hospital size and patient census.
Legislation should also protect patients by allowing nurses to close understaffed hospital units to new admissions for a short period of time after consulting specified staff; prohibiting charge nurses in Minnesota hospitals from being included in the staffing grid to allow them to perform their duties of running the hospital floor without also providing patient care; and requiring that nurses assigned to a unit are trained on and have had orientation to the unit.
The healthcare provider tax funds essential health care services for more than 1 million Minnesotans and enables critical investments in the health and well-being of Minnesota’s communities. The provider tax is set to expire in 2019, which would create an annual revenue shortfall of $680 million. This loss of funding will jeopardize healthcare access for thousands of low-income Minnesotans, threaten the stability of the healthcare sector, and negatively impact the state budget. This will also affect the state’s ability to fund the current MinnesotaCare program.
Nurses experience workplace violence in the form of physical and verbal assault at a higher rate than most other professions. This comes from patients, visitors, and unwelcome guests. Too often nurses are told that no serious action can be taken against the aggressor and many hospitals refuse to take action to increase security or staffing. Additionally, there is a significant lack of data to measure the rate of these incidents in Minnesota’s hospitals.
The Minnesota Nurses Association believes that we need a multi-faceted solution in order to deal with this growing epidemic. We need accurate tracking of trends and incidents of violence so that we can more appropriately address them; and we need stronger penalties for those committing these acts.
MNA supports the creation and management of an electronic database that allows nurses to report incidents of violence and denials of safety-related resource requests. Nurses believe that making this data available to state agencies and lawmakers will help policymakers understand the magnitude of the problem nurses face every day and make decisions that keep both nurses and patients safe.
Additionally, we support equalizing penalties for assaulting a healthcare worker in any unit within a hospital. Currently it is a felony solely in the emergency department, but a gross misdemeanor in any other area of the hospital. The disparity in penalties makes it very unlikely that any action will be taken against those who commit a crime against healthcare workers. This consistent lack of action has become a deterrent for reporting, which makes it difficult to gather data on the severity of the problem. Nurses believe that equalizing the penalty across all areas of the hospital will lead to greater reporting and act as a deterrent for future assaults.
Every day, nurses see the effects of a broken healthcare financing system. Patients come into the hospitals sicker and sicker. Why? Because they’re forgoing preventive care, not filling prescriptions, and allowing conditions to worsen. For too many, it’s because they don’t have coverage, can’t afford the deductibles, or can’t afford the drugs.
Minnesota’s registered nurses are advocating for a publicly financed but still privately delivered healthcare system. The state pays the bills. Your doctor still takes care of you. Everybody is in and nobody is out. Care is guaranteed for life. A single payer system also means being able to control the skyrocketing costs of healthcare. We can negotiate the prices of pharmaceutical drugs, chronic care management, routine procedures, and long-term care by instituting smart reforms that manage costs and improve patient outcomes.