For Immediate Release
Contact: Nancy Webber, 518.782.9400, ext. 223
LATHAM, NY, Sept. 8, 2009 – Most people avoid thinking about what goes on inside a hospital until they themselves are hospitalized.
Then, they may discover that there are not enough registered nurses to provide adequate care for all the patients on the unit. They may develop complications and infections. They may be the victims of medical errors.
If only they had known hospital staffing levels before they were admitted!
The Nursing Care Quality Protection Act, which was sent to Gov. David Paterson this week, would make it possible for patients and their families to get vital information about staffing levels in hospitals. Registered nurses across the state are writing and calling the governor, urging him to sign this measure into law.
“Patients have a right to know how many nurses will be available to care for them,” said Tina Gerardi, RN, chief executive officer of the New York State Nurses Association. “The amount of nursing care a patient receives has a significant impact on whether that patient will develop pneumonia, a urinary tract infection, or other complications.”
A landmark study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that each additional patient per RN increases that patient’s risk of dying in the hospital by 7%. Patients on surgical units with patient-to-RN ratios of 8:1 were 13% more likely to die within 30 days than patients on units with ratios of 4:1.
Citing recent newspaper articles that showed the need for more openness about medical errors, Gerardi said. “This legislation is a step forward. It is part of an ongoing effort to improve the quality of patient care in our state’s hospitals.”
The legislation requires each hospital to report the numbers of RNs and LPNs providing direct care and the ratio of patients to nurses; the number of unlicensed personnel providing direct care; the incidence of adverse patient events such as medication errors and injuries; and the method the hospital uses for determining and adjusting staffing levels.
The New York State Nurses Association is the voice for nursing in the Empire State. With more than 37,000 members, it is the state's largest union and professional association for registered nurses. It supports nurses and nursing practice through education, research, legislative advocacy, and collective bargaining.