Ballot initiative stirs debate on nurse staffing ratios in Massachusetts: 5 things to know

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Massachusetts hospitals are fighting against a union's proposed ballot initiative to mandate nurse staffing levels, according to a Boston Globe report.

Here are five things to know about the proposed initiative and staffing debate.

1. The Massachusetts Nurses Association proposed the initiative.

2. Under the initiative, one nurse would not be responsible for more than four typical medical and surgical patients at a time, but more stringent guidelines would apply with sicker patients. Hospitals have typically maintained a similar level of staffing but adjusted based on patient volume, according to the Boston Globe.

3. Union officials argue legislating nurse-to-patient ratios would help improve patient care. They contend nurses are overworked, which in turn affects their ability to do their best job and could potentially lead to medical errors, according to the report.

4. Hospitals, as well as nursing groups like the Organization of Nurse Leaders and the American Nurses Association Massachusetts, are opposed to the measure. They contend it would not improve care and say some organizations would see significant negative effects due to the cost of hiring more nurses, reports Boston Globe.

5. Nurses must gather another round of signatures by July if they want voters to decide on the issue in the fall. If voters do approve the measure, Massachusetts would be the second state to mandate nurse staffing levels.

Read the full Boston Globe report here.

 

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