A proposed 2018 ballot question would mandate nurse staffing ratios in hospitals. The ballot question has pit health care workers against health care workers, with competing claims about patient safety.
Here's a look at what the issue is all about.
What would the ballot question do?
The ballot question would mandate staffing ratios for nurses, with the ratio depending on the unit. For example, emergency room nurses would be allowed to care for between one and five patients, depending on the patients' condition. One nurse would be allowed to care for up to four pediatric patients or five psychiatric patients.
Hospitals would be prohibited from laying off staff to comply with the policy change.
Who is asking for the change?
The Massachusetts Nurses Association has been advocating for the ballot question. It created a ballot campaign committee, the Committee to Ensure Safe Patient Care, and put $1 million into that committee, as of the end of 2017.
Who opposes the change?
As of December 2017, the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association had put $11,500 into a ballot committee opposing the change, the Coalition to Protect Patient Safety. The coalition has support from other hospital groups, as well as from the Organization of Nurse Leaders, which represents nurses now working in management, and the Massachusetts chapter of the American Nurses Association.
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