American Nurses Association, union respond to defeat of Massachusetts nurse staffing proposal

The American Nurses Association and the union behind a ballot initiative to implement mandatory nurse-to-patient staffing ratios in Massachusetts are responding to the measure's defeat.

Question 1 failed at the polls on Nov. 6, with 70 percent of voters rejecting it, according to preliminary numbers.

American Nurses Association President Pamela Cipriano, PhD, RN, said she is pleased with the outcome.

"Many factors affect the number of patients for whom each nurse may safely care for — it's not just math," she said. "The rigid, one size fits all approach proposed by the ballot initiative failed to acknowledge the complexities of staffing and undermined nurses' professional autonomy and decision-making in determining staffing on their units."

"Therefore, we are pleased that the Massachusetts voters soundly rejected Question 1," said Dr. Cipriano.

She said the debate over the proposal helped educate consumers about the importance of nurse staffing. Additionally, she said she is certain hospital and nursing leaders in Massachusetts "are ready to work together to identify a constructive path forward to develop shared solutions and accountability to ensure staffing levels meet the needs of patient populations and align with nurses' experience and associated resources. Only when that happens, can victory be declared."

Donna Kelly–Williams, RN, president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, expressed disappointment in the Nov. 6 election results.

"We know that right now …there are nurses caring for too many patients, and those patients are unnecessarily being put in harm's way. And the problem continues to grow every year. The status quo is not a solution here," she said.

But she echoed Dr. Cipriano, acknowledging, "This issue is now in the public, finally outside the walls of the hospitals."

Access Dr. Cipriano's full statement here and Ms. Kelly–Williams' full statement here.

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