Patricia Healey: Patient Safety Act should be on state ballot

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Monday, April 16, 2018
Patient Safety Act should be on ballot

I’m a working registered nurse responding to a letter opposing the safe patient limits ballot initiative (“Opposes ballot question on nurse staffing issue,” April 3).

Bringing the Patient Safety Act to Massachusetts would set a safe maximum limit on the number of patients assigned to a nurse at one time, while providing flexibility to hospitals to adjust nurses’ patient assignments based on specific needs.

My only priority as a nurse is the health and safety of my patients. It’s so dangerous to walk in to a hospital unit with no idea of how many patients you will be assigned. Studies show that 87 percent of nurses report they don’t have time to properly comfort and care for their patients and families due to unsafe patient assignments.

Hospital executives don’t understand that people’s lives are at stake. They say saving lives will cost more, but in reality, the readmissions and longer hospital stays that result from not having limits are what cost more money.

Imagine being a new mother with a vulnerable infant. Or a son taking care of an elderly parent. Or the sibling of a young man who overdosed on opiates. Your medical emergency is already overwhelming, and then you can’t get a response to a call button because your nurse is trying to help a half dozen other new moms, sons, or siblings. It’s unsustainable and it’s heartbreaking for us as your nurses.

Massachusetts voters need to see this on the ballot because if they don’t use their power to bring safe patient limits to our hospitals, hospital executives certainly won’t.

Patricia Healey, R.N.