Nurse staffing laws: 3 updates from across the US

Nurse-to-patient staffing ratios — typically backed by unions and disliked by hospitals — are up for consideration in legislatures nationwide. 

Here are three recent updates from the East Coast to the West Coast: 

1. New York: The state adopted a measure June 29 that requires hospitals to assign at least one nurse for every two patients in critical care units. The regulation, adopted unanimously by the state health department's Public Health and Health Planning Council, is part of a state law signed in 2021 mandating hospitals establish clinical staffing committees. 

This requirement "codifies standard industry practice" and prioritizes patient health and safety, according to state officials. 

2.  Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania House approved a bill June 28 that would require hospitals to follow mandated nurse-patient staffing ratios, NBC affiliate WGAL reported. The bill passed 119-84 in a bipartisan vote. 

It now heads to the state Senate. 

3. Oregon: On June 22, Oregon's Senate agreed with its House and greenlit a minimum staffing mandate for hospital workers. The bill would require hospitals to create committees for professional, technical, service and nursing staff in order to develop staffing plans. Hospitals that do not comply with the agreed-upon plans could face penalties.  

The bill now moves to the governor; if signed, it would declare an emergency and take effect Sept. 1. 

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