Sentinel & Enterprise: I support the Patient Safety Act, a November 2018 ballot measure establishing safe maximum limits on the number of patients assigned to a nurse at one time. As a registered nurse for 27 years at the bedside, currently at HealthAlliance in Leominster for the past 11 years, I have had experience trying to care for too many patients at one time. It was exhausting, dangerous, and goes against our best science as well as common sense.
Staffing guidelines, which were once reasonable, have increased while patients have become sicker and more acutely ill. Nurses need time to assess patient needs, to administer complex medications, to educate patients and families, and help get patients moving again.
Every nurse knows there is a limit to how many patients you can safely care for based on the needs of each patient. Our experience is backed by decades of research. For instance, a 2016 study published in JAMA surgery showed that there is a 20 percent higher risk a patient will die within 30 days of having general surgery at hospitals that don’t have patient limits.
In 2004, California established safe patient limits. The results have been universally positive. Recent studies show Massachusetts patients receive less time with their nurses, resulting in higher rates of complications and readmissions as well as longer wait times than in California.
Hospital executives, who are responsible for this crisis, are focused only on profit and are doing everything they can to stop this initiative.
Don’t let them deprive you and your loved ones from receiving the care you need when you need it most.
Nurses will not be ashamed for advocating what is right for the patients in our community. Safety, dignity, and quality of care in the hospital are not political agendas, they are a patient’s right. This November vote “yes” for safe patient limits.
Darlene Civita RN