The American Nurses Association (ANA) recently announced its support for new federal legislation focused on implementing minimum nurse-to-patient staffing ratios in hospitals across the country.
Nursing Staffing Standards For Hospital Patient Safety and Quality Care Act
The Nurse Staffing Standards for Hospital Patient Safety and Quality Care Act (H.R.2530 and S.1113), was reintroduced in March 2023 by U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Co-Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Task Force on Aging and Families, and U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). The bill would require all hospitals that participate in Medicare to establish and comply with minimum nurse staffing levels as a condition of participation in the program.
According to the ANA, the bills would help ensure nurses have reasonable workloads so they can provide high-quality care to patients. The legislation also aims to improve nurse retention and create a safer work environment.
The ANA believes the legislation, if passed, would have a significant impact. “Appropriate nurse staffing is essential for high-quality patient care. When nurses have too many patients to care for at once, it can lead to poor outcomes and increased risks to patients,” said ANA President Ernest Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN. “This legislation would help establish a minimum safety standard for nurse-to-patient ratios in hospitals to prevent overworking nurses and improve working conditions.”
In addition to the ANA’s efforts, several states have recently introduced legislation to implement nurse staffing standards. Bills in New York, Illinois and Massachusetts are still pending, while a staffing law in Connecticut is awaiting funding to be implemented. California currently has the only legally mandated statewide nurse-to-patient ratios in the U.S. Voters approved minimum ratios in 1999, and the California Department of Public Health has found higher staffing levels have improved patient care.