Massachusetts grants hospitals flexibility with nurse staffing ratios

As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge, Massachusetts hospitals may be eligible for exemption from the state's mandated nurse-to-patient ratios in the intensive care unit, according to a Jan. 7 news release from Gov. Charlie Baker. 

The governor said a temporary exemption may be available to a hospital if it has capacity of less than 20 percent and first attests to the state it has suspended all nonessential elective invasive procedures.

Before requesting a temporary exemption, hospitals also must take "every reasonable step to expand capacity," the governor said. Additionally, hospitals are required to follow mandated ratios in the ICU if  bed capacity increases, or if they resume nonessential elective invasive procedures.

State data as of Jan. 6 shows 2,386 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 in Massachusetts and 81 percent of ICU beds occupied.


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