For Immediate Release
(St. Paul) – May 11, 2017 – In conjunction with Nurses Week, legislators introduced the Quality Patient Care Act in the Minnesota Legislature. HF 2650 and companion bill SF 2382 require hospitals to maintain a minimum number of trained nursing personnel at all times to take care of the number of patients at that facility. The number of nurses on duty would vary by department as well as patient census.
“We know that more staff leads to better patient outcomes,” said bill author Rep. Greg Davids (R-Preston). “Minnesota hospitals must have enough staff on duty to take care of their patients, and the Quality Patient Care Act provides for a minimum number of staff while giving hospitals the flexibility to move staff when they need to.”
Hospital staffing plans would follow nationally accepted, evidence-based standards that indicate the proper nurse-to-patient ratio for each department. The bill specifies these ratios per department and that supervisors or untrained personnel are not to be counted in the staffing plan. Healthcare emergencies, however, are provided for to allow hospitals to move staff where they need them.
“Nurses continue to say we are taking care of too many patients at one time,” said Mary Turner, president of the Minnesota Nurses Association. “Short staffing is unacceptable in Minnesota. Patients suffer when they don’t receive the care they deserve. Their medications are late. Their assessments don’t happen. Their discharge instructions are rushed through. That means some patients have to come back to the hospital with infections or complications.”
The bill prohibits shortcuts to patient care, such as video monitors in place of direct patient care, mandatory overtime to force nurses to work longer than they are physically able, or layoffs to ancillary staff in place of nurses. In addition, each hospital must also create safety staffing committee, including nurses.
“The evidence is clear that the number of hospital staff affects patient outcomes,” said Senate bill author Erik Simonson, (DFL-Duluth). “The Quality Patient Care Act ensures that each hospital has an appropriate number of staff on duty to care for the number of patients in the beds at the time.”
The Quality Patient Care Act gives Minnesota hospitals until August 1, 2020 to comply, but rural Minnesota hospitals would have until August 1, 2022. Failure to comply with staffing or reporting requirements would be subject to a fine by the Minnesota Department of Health.
House co-authors of the bill include Minnesota Reps. Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul), Peggy Flanagan (DFL-St. Louis Park), Jamie Becker-Finn (DFL-Roseville), Deb Hilstrom (DFL-Brooklyn Center), Leon Lille (DFL-North St. Paul), Raymond Dehn (DFL-Minneapolis), Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul), Liz Olson (DFL-Duluth), Karen Clark (DFL-Minneapolis), Ilhan Omar (DFL-Minneapolis), and David Bly (DFL-Northfield). Senate co-authors include John Marty (DFL-Roseville), Chris Eaton (DFL-Brooklyn Center), Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood), and Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis).
More information about the campaign for Quality Patient Care can be found at www.quality-patient-care.org.