A pair of Democratic state legislators said today they introduced bills to create government mandated nurse-patient ratios at Pennsylvania hospitals.
"Studies show that patients in hospitals with higher registered nurse staffing levels are less likely to get an infection during their care, and as a result, health care costs can be reduced by as much as 30 percent," said state Rep. Phyllis Mundy of Luzerne County, who introduced a House version of the bill.
State Sen. Daylin Leach of Montgomery County introduced the Senate version.
He said, "There is compelling statistical evidence that patient safety is improved dramatically and the costs to hospitals are reduced as malpractice claims fall and unnecessary, uncompensated care is avoided … Hospitals should make this investment in patient care that will pay dividends in overall savings."
They said the ratio would vary based on the nature of the hospital care. Possible ratios, for example, might be one registered nurse to two patients in a neonatal intensive care unit to one registered nurse for every four patients in a pre-surgical unit, they said.
Mundy and Leach said the bills have strong backing from union nurses.
California is the only state with government mandated nurse-patient ratios. Pennsylvania nurses have regularly pushed for such legislation. Hospitals have historically resisted, saying it's better, both in terms of medical quality and controlling costs, for managers to set staffing levels based on the conditions and needs of patients in a given unit during a given shift.
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