Ruling supports safe patient standards


A recent arbitrator’s ruling makes the case for minimum safe patient standards in every Minnesota hospital.

Nurses at Sleepy Eye Medical Center in western Minnesota made a seemingly simple request during negotiations for their first contract: agree to a staffing plan that clearly sets out base staffing standards.

The hospital refused, so nurses took the case to arbitration – and won.

“We asked that the existing grid be put into writing in order to improve staffing,” said Sleepy Eye MNA Chair Katie Grams. “It worked well by laying out base staffing standards of four patients to one nurse, detailing how those standards worked by shift, census, patient acuity and staff skill level.”

The arbitrator not only approved putting the staffing plan into the contract, he added language that specifies staffing for OB, ER and charge nurses.

“This case shows that hospitals can – and do – have reasonable minimum standards of care,” said Grams. “If Sleepy Eye can do it, hospitals throughout Minnesota of any size should do the same.”