New Mexico eyes codifying nurse-to-patient ratios

Two New Mexico legislators are co-sponsoring a bill that aims to define and legally enforce nurse-to-patient ratios to help nurses, an overworked and understaffed group, Source New Mexico reported Jan. 30. 

The ratio is not defined in the bill, but New Mexico Patient Safety Act seeks to have the state's health department determine the number of patients one nurse can appropriately care for at once. The bill also expects different ratios across healthcare settings. 

Similar legal efforts in the state have died. California is the only state with a nurse-to-patient ratio law, according to Source New Mexico, with five patients for one nurse. New Mexico, Washington and Oregon are currently exploring their own versions. 

"We don't need nurses taking on patient loads of six, 10 patients that they can't possibly take care of," Rep. Eleanor Chavez, who's co-sponsoring the bill with Sen. Brenda McKenna, said, according to Source New Mexico. "We don't want to overload our nurses or our other health care personnel because they are not going to be able to attend to the patient care needs."

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