NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Z_CNHI News Service

November 13, 2013

Nurses in Mass. want to limit number of patients

METHUEN, Mass. — Nurses in this state are trying to get support for a ballot initiative that would limit the number of patients they can treat at one time.

The proposal, which could reach the ballot for next year’s gubernatorial and midterm Congressional election, would limit many nurses in hospitals to four patients at a time. Critical care and intensive care nurses and emergency room nurses would be limited to fewer patients, depending on those patients’ conditions.

Hospitals and hospital groups oppose the proposal, saying it reduces flexibility by binding their hands in providing care and could jack up already high medical costs in the state.

"There is no limit to the number of patients a nurse cares for," said Karen Higgins, a staff nurse at Boston Medical Center and a member of the Massachusetts Nursing Association, which was collecting signatures in Methuen, Mass., last month. "You could have four (per nurse) or you could have eight."

Lynn Nichols, president of the Massachusetts Hospital Association, said in a statement that the group opposes assigning ratio limits. 

"Patient care staffing decisions should always be based on the best interest of the patient – not a number," she said. "Nurses don't treat numbers, they treat people. Hospitals shouldn't be required to staff by numbers, either."

Donna Kelly-Williams, president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, said that the requirements would mean more nurses would have to be hired, increasing payroll costs to hospitals. But she argued it would not increase the overall cost of care because high staffing levels would reduce expensive complications.

"Caring for the patient right the first time decreases the cost of care," she said.

A 2004 study conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, in the federal Department of Health and Human Services, found that lower staffing levels are linked to higher "adverse outcomes," including infection, pneumonia and internal bleeding.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Z_CNHI News Service

Offbeat
NDN Video
Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl Swim Daily, Nina Agdal in the Cook Islands Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Prince George Turns 1 and is Already a Trendsetter Train Collides With Semi Truck Carrying Lighter Fluid Kanye West Tells-All on Wedding in "GQ" Interview Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Scarlett Johansson Set To Marry In August New Star Wars Episode XII X-Wing Revealed Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB' Adam Levine Ties the Knot Sebastian The Ibis Walks Beautiful Bride Down The Aisle | ACC Must See Moment NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Faces of Souls Lost in Malaysian Plane Crash 105-year-old woman throws first pitch Man Creates Spreadsheet of Wife's Reasons for Turning Down Sex 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success Rory McIlroy struggles, surges, wins British Open
Special Features
NRA Waterfront Plans