Proposed bill to set nurse staffing levels, protect whistleblowers

Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) last week introduced legislation that would establish a federal minimum of nurse-to-patient ratios at all hospitals, according to a press release.

Aimed at decreasing mortality rates and preventing medical errors, the Nurse Staffing Standards for Patient Safety and Quality Care Act of 2011 would require that hospitals work with direct care nurses to develop staffing plans. The bill would also require that the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services consider staffing requirements for licensed practical nurses and that the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission recommend any changes for additional reimbursement needed because of the bill.

"Nurses are overworked and hospitals are understaffed, leading to disastrous results for patients everywhere," said Schakowsky in a statement. "By creating a workplace in which nurses are asked to do the impossible, we drive nurses away and jeopardize the quality of patient care. The bill is a common-sense solution to improve the quality of patient care and address the nursing crisis in our hospitals."

In addition, the Act would offer whistleblower protection, giving nurses the right to seek enforcement of staffing standards.

For more:
- read the press release

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