Today in Massachusetts hospitals, there is no law and no limit to guide the number of patients that can be assigned to a nurse at one time (aside from the ICU). Massachusetts hospitals are facing deteriorating patient care conditions, leading to more complications, readmissions, and errors, as well as longer hospital stays and real life-threatening risks.
Every year, the Massachusetts Nurses Association conducts a survey of ALL nurses in Massachusetts. The most recent survey was put before all nurses in April 2018, and the survey results clearly show that things are getting worse for patients.
When RNs have too many patients to care for, we see a dramatic and dangerous impact on safety and patient outcomes. Study after study shows that there is an absolute need to set a maximum limit on the number of patients that can be assigned to each registered nurse in order to avoid serious complications, mistakes, and preventable readmissions.
More than ten years ago, California established maximum limits on the number of patients that could be assigned to a nurse at one time and the results have been universally positive. Recent studies have shown that patients in Massachusetts receive less time with their nurses, resulting in higher rates of complications and readmissions and longer wait times than in California.