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Atkins Co-Sponsors Bill to Create Care Standards for Hospital Patients

The bill comes from concerns voiced by nurses that minimum standards of care have not been met at some hospitals.

The following is a press release from the office of Rep. Joe Atkins.

Minnesota lawmakers have responded to nurses' concerns by introducing the Standards of Care Act in the 2013 legislative session to ensure the safety of hospital patients in Minnesota.

"Study after study shows proper staffing lowers health care costs. Other states that have implemented and/or studied the staffing standards report the probability of death drops by double-digits.

Nurses working at the bedside tell me patients are at risk, and I believe them," said Senator Jeff Hayden, (DFL-Minneapolis), the bill's co-sponsor.

The Standards of Care Act makes it incumbent upon hospitals to ensure enough nurses are on duty according to patient needs per unit and per shift. The bill further states that, in developing patient assignments, hospitals will abide by nationally accepted, evidence-based standards established by professional specialty nursing organizations. In addition, assignment limits would be adjustable for patient acuity and nursing intensity. The measure would also enforce consequences for facilities that fail to meet these standards.

"It's clear from study after study that safe Standards of Care save lives," said Rep. Joe Atkins, (DFL-Inver Grove Heights), bill co-sponsor. "We know this is a difficult issue, but we want to work with the hospitals on this -- in fact, we've already reached out to them. We need to find a solution that works for nurses, hospitals, and most importantly, works for patients and keeps them safe.”

"We are excited to officially begin the legislative process that will institute Standards of Care in every hospital, on every shift, for every patient throughout Minnesota,” said MNA President Linda Hamilton, RN, BSN, “The lawmakers here share our concern that patients are needlessly at risk in our hospitals because not enough skilled registered nurses are on duty to adequately handle the needs of vulnerable people in the acute care setting."

More than 60 research studies show that safe RN staffing levels eliminates unnecessary complications, reduces preventable medical errors, and curbs extended hospital stays, thereby reducing risks to patients and saving precious health care dollars.

"Nurses at the bedside are deeply concerned that other troubling instances are not reported. We catch our breath with every 'near miss,' every late medication, every discharge with hasty instruction. We provide a safety net through our continual monitoring, but we see the foundation of that net eroding more each day," said Susan Kreitz, RN of Fairview Lakes Hospital in Wyoming.

"Too often I and my colleagues are faced with the circumstance of ignoring someone in order to care for someone else," said Sandra Anderson, RN, also of Fairview Lakes, "That someone is perhaps a grandparent in a confused state who tries to get out of bed and falls. Now she has a broken hip, or she has struck her head. She is suffering and we may lose her. Someone else may be a dying carpenter whose family cannot get to his side in time," Sandr. "We catch way too many near-misses because we are stretched dangerously thin."

Visit http://www.standardsofcareact.com for a comprehensive list of all relevant studies and findings related to RN staffing levels and patient safety.

Diane Baum February 19, 2013 at 02:15 PM
I have been hospitalized for surgeries three times in the past two years. I know first hand that nurses are overworked. When they are with me, they get two or three calls to go take care of another. They try to have another nurse step in and THEY are busy also. I have been told that I was to be discharged by 10 am, the latest was 4 pm, mainly because nurses didn't have the time to write up the paperwork for the doctor to sign. And bathroom visits? I was told to ask for a nurse to help me because I was not supposed to get out of bed myself. After three calls for help, I finally went myself to the bathroom. I hope this gets the attention that it deserves.
Jiminy Cricket February 20, 2013 at 01:08 AM
. . . and getting the government involved is going to make this better? All these legislators do is stick their nose into places they know nothing about. Let the free market actually work and things will resolve themselves.

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