MNA conflicts with MHA over nurse-patient assignment ratio bill package

The Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) called on state legislators last week to set limits on nurse-patient assignment ratios in hospitals to improve patient outcomes and reduce burnout. The Safe Patient Care Act, a bill package in both chambers of the Michigan legislature, would address these concerns. The Michigan Health and Hospital Association (MHA) released a statement in opposition to the legislation. 

 

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The package comprises House Bill 4482-4484 and Senate Bill 204-206, which are identical in both chambers according to MNA. All bills are currently in their respective health policy committees awaiting discussion. 

MNA says the package is:

“A plan to increase patient safety in Michigan hospitals by establishing minimum nurse staffing levels, limiting mandatory overtime for RNs, and adding transparency.”

The package would require hospitals to implement maximum nurse-to-patient ratios, prohibit mandatory overtime for nurses, and to implement a staffing plan to ensure more patients are not assigned to a registered nurse (RN). 

Brenna Tresidder, a RN in Commerce Township, says:

“In the worst public health crisis in 100 years, hospitals let us down. We didn’t get the staff or the resources we needed to take care of our patients. Nurses are left on their own, working 16 hour days, fighting an endless battle to keep our patients safe.”

According to MNA, years of scientific research shows links between RN staffing and the quality of patient outcomes. The studies show when nurses are assigned too many patients, falls, infections, and even deaths increase. Jamie Brown, RN, president of MNA says:

“Because there is no law, nurses are stretched too thin, too often, and we can’t spend the tome we need with our patients. Anyone who saw the images coming out of our hospitals from the pandemic understands that our system is failing. Hospital CEOs should not be making millions while cutting staff. The hospital lobby has gone unchecked for too long. We need our legislators to step up and pass laws to protect patients.”

In response to this press release, Brian Peters, CEO of MHA released a statement

“The MHA recognizes and appreciates the outstanding work of Michigan nurses, especially during the pandemic. However, we do not support legislation that would institute government-mandated staffing ratios. The one-size-fits-all approach inherent in legislatively mandated decisions impacting clinical care typically fails to recognize the complexity of patient care and the diversity of healthcare environments. Studies have shown that nurse education and training — rather than a one-size-fits-all approach like mandatory nurse staffing ratios — are the most important factors when it comes to ensuring the delivery of high-quality patient care.”

“The MHA is committed to working with nurses to improve retention rates, address burnout and increase the number of high-quality education programs and resources available to educate both new and current nurse professionals. Through the MHA Keystone Center, we have demonstrated our commitment to working with nurses and other clinicians to improve safety and quality, and establish Michigan hospitals as national leaders in this regard. The MHA believes hospitals need to have the ability to choose the staffing models that best fit the individual needs of their patients and communities.”