Right now, 250 men, women, and children die each day from preventable medical errors—as many as a plane crash every day. We have the power to solve this problem by mandating safe staffing.

Nurses are experts on patient care. Our state acknowledges this by granting nurse licenses that make RNs responsible both for patient lives and for advocating for safe care. Every time we practice in a hospital with short staffing, we’re putting our licenses and patient lives on the line. Now nurses are raising our voices together to call for a safe minimum staffing standard to protect our patients.

Our experiences and scientific studies show that increasing nurse staffing will reduce medical errors and save lives—and money. It’s time for us to create an industry-wide standard to make hospitals safe for all patients.

Read the bills – HB 1095 Patient Safety Reform; HB 1152 Meal and Rest Breaks; HB 1153 Close the Mandatory Overtime Loophole

Nurses and healthcare workers – click here to share your story about why safe staffing matters to your patients.

“I became a nurse to help people and make a difference. And you can’t do that when you don’t have enough staff. With low staffing, we are putting our patients at risk.”
Shelli Spears, RN, Spokane

Safe staffing saves lives.
A mounting body of scientific evidence shows that improving staffing saves lives.

  • Increased nurse staffing results in shorter length of stay and lower rates of urinary tract infections, upper gastrointestinal bleeding, pneumonia, shock, cardiac arrest, and deaths from preventable causes.1
  • Raising RN staffing levels at all hospitals to a safe level would save 5,000 lives a year.2
  • Nurse-to-patient ratios save lives. 11-14% fewer patients die post-surgery in California since they implemented nurse staffing ratios there.3
“Our staffing committee worked hard to implement a plan that would keep our patients safe. Then, six months later, management decided to reduce it by one nurse per shift. Under current law, this is perfectly legal, though it put our patients at risk. We need to create a safe staffing minimum standard so that hospitals can’t understaff like this.”
Kathy Fletcher, RN, Seattle

Safe staffing saves money.
Medical errors and hospital-acquired conditions are costly but avoidable if we increase nurse staffing.

  • In total, increasing nurse staffing to a safe level would save $6.1 billion in medical costs nationwide.4
  • Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), hospitals will no longer be reimbursed for the treatment of hospital-acquired conditions including urinary tract infections, surgical site infections, and pneumonia.
  • If hospitals all staffed to a safe level, it would result in 60,000 fewer hospital-acquired conditions, avoiding 1.5 million hospital stay days.5
  • Those 1.5 million hospital stay days will no longer be reimbursed once the ACA takes effect. Now is the time to improve staffing so that our hospitals don’t have to give unreimbursed care.
“Our ratio numbers keep going up. There are days when we cannot keep up at half the patient load we have to care for. We have had an increase in missed nursing duties and unfinished work. It’s just too much. We have raised it at our staffing committee but our concerns never go past the meetings.”
Barbara Esperas, Nursing Assistant, Spokane

It’s time for an industry standard.
Keeping patients safe is in everyone’s interest—we are all potentially hospital patients.

  • The current law isn’t working. Nurses try to use the current staffing committees to make improvements, but committee recommendations are unenforceable and mean nothing when rejected by a CEO staffing to a budget instead of patient needs.
  • Patients need to know that any hospital in the state will provide safe care. Hospital-by-hospital committee-driven improvements don’t guarantee safety to every patient.
  • Legislators have enacted safe staffing standards for the airline industry and for the day care industry. It only makes sense to have similar life-saving standards for the hospital industry.
“I am a labor and delivery nurse. We do not have enough nurses to cover when admissions go up or patients become unstable. Some days we are lucky to have no emergencies. Our patients should not have to rely on luck to get safe care.”
Nancy Gladsjo, RN, Redmond

To stop the daily plane crash of 250 men, women, and children dying from medical errors, we need a combination of safe baseline staffing, guaranteed nurse breaks, and stopping misuse of on-call.
Support Patient Safety Reform for a guaranteed safe hospital staffing standard – because safe staffing saves lives.

Read the bill – HB 1095

1 Cimiotti JP, Aiken LH, Sloane DM, et al. Nurse Staffing, Burnout, and Health Care-Associated Infection. American Journal of Infection Control. 2012;40(6):486-490. Also, Needleman J, Buerhaus P, Mattke S, et al. Nurse-Staffing Levels and the Quality of Care in Hospitals. New England Journal of Medicine. 2002; 346:1715-1722.
2 Safe level defined as at the 75th percentile of hospitals nationwide. Needleman J, Buerhaus P, Steward M, et al. Nurse-Staffing in Hospitals: Is There a Business Case for Quality? Health Affairs. 2006;25(1):204-211.
3 Aiken LH, Sloane DM, Cimiotti JP, et al. Implications of the California nurse staffing mandate for other states. Health Serv Res. 2010; 45(4):904-21.
4 Dall TJ, Chen YJ, Siefert RF, et al. The Economic Value of Professional Nursing. Medical Care 2009; 47(1):97-104.
5 Needleman J, Buerhaus P, Steward M, et al. Nurse-Staffing in Hospitals: Is There a Business Case for Quality? Health Affairs. 2006;25(1):204-211.

January 29th, 2013

Posted In: Nurse Alliance, Updates

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW

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