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Mandated Nurse Staffing Levels May Head To Ballot

Patient Marlena Bechtel-Rysdam goes over home monitoring training materials with registered nurse Christina Leese at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, Ore. (AP/Don Ryan)

Patient Marlena Bechtel-Rysdam goes over home monitoring training materials with registered nurse Christina Leese at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, Ore. (AP/Don Ryan)

For decades, there has been ongoing debate about the right number of patients each nurse should be responsible for in a hospital. And now, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is hoping to take the debate to the ballot.

The union wants to mandate the maximum number of patients nurses can care for in a particular unit of the hospital. The union says that the requirements will mean better care for patients. But the Massachusetts Hospital Association says each hospital needs more flexibility to decide the best way to assign staff based on its specific needs.

If the Massachusetts Nurses Association gathers the required 70,000 signatures to make the 2014 ballot. If it passes, Massachusetts would become the second state in the nation, along with California, to legally require hospitals to have a certain amount of nurses for its patients.

Guests

Donna Kelly Williams, president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association.

Sharon Gale, executive officer of the Organization of Nurse Leaders of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Jack Needleman, professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the University of California Los Angeles.


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