Bravo to Theresa Brown, RN, for writing an eye-opening Op-Ed, exposing the dangers faced by patients when not enough nurses are on duty.  The New York Times published her opinion on Sun., Aug. 18, which puts this issue front and center, where it should be.   Read the OpEd here.  
We encourage you to read the entire piece, along with the Comments Section AND participate in the online discussion.
Brown mentions only one piece of legislation being considered by Congress to address the issue of poor staffing levels, but it is important to know that efforts are being led by nursing communities (including National Nurses United) to advance other bills on the federal and state levels as well.
In April of this year, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), introduced the National Nursing Shortage Reform and Patient Advocacy Act, (S 739) and its companion bill in the House, authored by Rep. Jan Schakowsky,  Safe Nurse Staffing for Patient Safety and Quality Care Act (HR 1907).
If passed, the legislation would protect the rights of nurses to advocate on behalf of their patients, establish minimum nurse-to-patient ratios in hospitals and invest in training and retaining nurses to address the nationwide nursing shortage.
“I am proud to introduce legislation that will help save the lives of countless patients by improving the quality of care in our nation’s hospitals,” Sen. Boxer says. “We must support the nurses who work tirelessly every day to provide the best possible care to their patients.”

Specifically, Boxer’s bill would:

  • Establish minimum nurse-to-patient ratios that will save lives, improve the quality of care and help to address the nursing shortage by creating a work environment that encourages nurses to remain in the hospital workforce.
  • Provide whistleblower protections to protect the right of nurses to advocate for the safety of patients and report violations of minimum standards of care.
  • Invest in nursing mentorship demonstration programs to better prepare nurses for work in a hospital setting.