Minnesota bill would let nurses refuse to care for unsafe patient assignments

A bill currently moving through the Minnesota House of Representatives would allow nurses to refuse to care for patients if they feel it staffing levels are inadequate, and also opt not to take on extra patient assignments if they feel they cannot do so safely.

Refusing care in these instances would not result in any penalty, and hospitals could not retaliate against nurses who choose to exercise these rights. Any that do would be fined if the bill becomes law. 

The bill, HF4200, was introduced Feb. 22. It also seeks to establish reporting requirements and corrective active plans to analyze the root cause of any adverse events or mishaps within hospitals. The bill would also continue required reporting of adverse events in healthcare facilities each year.

"I'm looking forward to continuing last year's efforts to improve conditions for some of our most critical healthcare workers," Minnesota state Rep. Sandra Feist said Feb. 29 during a committee vote to move the bill forward.

HF4200 is set to be reviewed next by the Minnesota House Labor and Industry Finance and Policy committee.


Editor's note: This story was updated March 5, 2024 at 5:09 p.m. CT. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the proposed bill protected nurses from declining to care for patients who engage in unsafe behavior. The bill protects nurses from being retaliated against by hospitals or health systems when they refuse care for patients if they feel taking on the extra work could put other patients in danger.

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