Massachusetts adopts nurse staffing rules for ICUs, burn units: 5 things to know

The Health Policy Commission has unanimously approved a mandate on nurse staffing in intensive care units throughout Massachusetts, according to The Boston Globe.

Here are five things to know about the regulations.

1. The regulations require that nurses in intensive care units in hospitals in Massachusetts, including hospitals operated by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, be assigned only up to two patients at a given time.

2. The regulations apply to all ICUs, including special units for burn patients, children and premature babies.

3. Under the regulations, an acuity tool would be used to determine the nursing needs of patients, according to a State House News Service Service report. The acuity tool deadline for academic hospital ICUs is March 31, 2016, while the deadline at community hospitals and in neonatal ICUs is Jan. 31, 2017.

4. The regulations sparked favorable reactions from the Massachusetts Nurses Association, a labor union, as well as the Massachusetts Hospital Association. The union initially supported tighter rules that would have, in almost all cases, limited ICU nurses to one patient, but were pleased with the regulations because they were extended to specialty units, according to The Boston Globe. Timothy F. Gens, executive vice president of the Massachusetts Hospital Association, called the rules a good compromise, telling The Boston Globe, "The commission found a thoughtful, patient- focused balance."

5. The regulations are the result of compromise legislation that state lawmakers approved last year.



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