This November, Massachusetts voters will consider a ballot question that would institute government-mandated nurse staffing levels at all hospitals across the Commonwealth. If approved by voters, the law would require every hospital to adopt rigid, one-size-fits-all registered nurse-to-patient ratios at all times – regardless of a hospital’s size, location or the needs of patients.
6 Ways a Yes Vote Would Put Health Care at Risk
- Take real-time decision-making power away from professional nurses and put it in the hands of a rigid government mandate
- Add more than $800 million in mandated costs forcing smaller yet vital community hospitals to close and hospitals across the state to make deep cuts to programs and services
- Limit services hospitals can provide at any given time if they don’t have enough nurses to meet the rigid ratios
- Dramatically increase ER wait times because hospitals will have to scramble to find enough nurses to meet the nurse to patient ratio
- Won’t improve quality of patient care in Massachusetts hospitals as proven in the state of California, the only state with imposed ratios
- Pass along added costs to patients through expensive insurance costs and taxes
What Will This Mean to UMass Memorial Health Care?
If question one passes, what will it mean to UMass Memorial Health Care?
- It overrides the professional judgment of our nurses and doctors at the bedside.
- Wait times in emergency departments will go up forcing patients to be transferred to others hospitals.
- We estimate the bottom-line cost to UMass Memorial to be between $36 and $40 million dollars.
- UMass Memorial hospitals can’t withstand this financial impact while maintaining our same level of services.
- We anticipate having to discontinue some services and possibly closing departments.
A mandatory nurse staffing ratio also hinders our ability to fill other staffing roles to round out our care teams. This flies in the face of our Everyone is a Caregiver teamwork approach. We have spent the past three years fostering this concept, and it has helped to improve our performance in the key areas of quality, patient safety and patient satisfaction.
California is the only state that has implemented nurse staffing ratios, and there is no evidence that those mandates have increased the quality of care patients receive. Similar efforts to impose nurse-to-patient ratios in other states have been soundly rejected.
Many Massachusetts nurses, hospitals and leading health care organizations oppose this overly rigid and unproven proposal. Members of the growing coalition against the ballot proposal include:
- Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association
- Organization of Nurse Leaders
- American Nurses Association, Massachusetts Chapter
- Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals
- Massachusetts Council of Community Hospitals
Read Why I Am Voting No on Question 1 on the Everyday Innovators Blog by Eric Dickson, MD, President and CEO, UMass Memorial Health Care
3 Reasons to Vote No on Mandated Ratios
- Ratios aren’t based on any valid science. There are no studies that provide evidence that staffing ratios alone will improve quality of care. In fact, many of the studies that the Massachusetts Nurses Union cites the most say the exact opposite.
- The ratios are the same for each unit in every hospital on both night and day shifts — from the largest teaching hospitals in Boston to smaller, rural hospitals in Western Massachusetts. But each hospital is unique, each unit is different, each nurse is different and each patient population is different.
- The mandate doesn’t account for the acuity of the patient or the experience of nurses working on the unit at that time. Recent nursing graduates would have the same patient responsibilities as nurses with twenty years of experience. As nurses, we know that doesn’t make any sense.