Legislation To Limit The Number Of Patients A Nurse Can Be Assigned Has Been Proposed By The Oregon Nurses Union

Legislation To Limit The Number Of Patients: The Oregon Nurses Association today made specifics on a bill introduction it intends to make in the 2023 legislative session that would impose specific nurse-to-patient ratios on hospitals known.

Strict sanctions would be included for hospitals that don’t satisfy the new requirements. Additionally, it would enable nurses and their unions to sue noncompliant institutions in civil court.

The policy debate will be one of the key healthcare issues of the 2019 legislative session because hospitals are vehemently opposed to the proposal. After a heated public discussion about the possible expense, a similar proposal that was put before Massachusetts voters in 2018 was defeated.

If the proposed legislation were to pass, Oregon would be one of just three states to have restrictions on the number of patients that can be assigned to a single nurse. The only state that now requires nurse-to-patient ratios in California. Only intensive care units in Massachusetts are subject to staffing ratio requirements.

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The statewide nurses union and hospitals have been at odds for months about how to handle staffing shortages, deteriorating working conditions, and hospital overcrowding. This conflict led to the creation of the draught law. Even though the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations has dropped, the issues have continued and hospitals have reported significant financial losses.

Legislators granted more than $40 million in emergency financing in September to help hospitals and long-term care facilities deal with a staffing and bed deficit.

The bill’s sponsor is Rep. Rob Nosse (D-Portland), a former ONA union official.

On Wednesday, ONA nurses spoke about the personal effects of having to care for more patients than they can handle during a news conference to announce the legislation.

They claim that the systemic understaffing has made it challenging for them to take rest and eating breaks during their 12-hour shifts. And they claim that it increases the danger of violent behaviour from irate patients, high levels of turnover, and nurse burnout.

Legislation To Limit The Number Of Patients
Legislation To Limit The Number Of Patients

Allison Seymour, a registered nurse from Salem and the ONA board secretary, said she quit bedside nursing a year ago due to burnout. “Like when a patient threatened to knife me over a cold breakfast,” she said.

When I was referred to as a hero, she claimed, “I felt betrayed.” “Patients’ fundamental needs weren’t being satisfied. It took longer than expected to grab lunch and use the restroom. Nobody was taking a bath.

The ONA reports that in 2021, the turnover rate for registered nurses was 27.1%.

According to Oregon law, hospitals must adhere to staffing plans that they create in conjunction with their nurses. The Oregon Health Authority’s unwillingness to implement the law, according to ONA representatives, has prevented the law from being effective during the pandemic.

On the whole, complaints received no response, according to Paige Spence, director of government relations for ONA.

The proposal is opposed by the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, which called it an attempt by the union to “punish” community hospitals.

Some Oregon hospitals won’t be able to hire enough nurses to fulfil the requirements ONA has suggested and will be forced to reduce their services if the proposal becomes law, according to Becky Hultberg, president and CEO of the hospital’s organisation.

As a result, Hultberg noted, “it means longer wait times in emergency rooms, fewer hospital beds, delays in planned treatments, and delays in moving patients from rural hospitals to urban ones when they require a higher level of care.”

In the upcoming legislative session, the hospital organisation will put out its own proposals to address the workforce shortage, according to Hultberg.

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According to the hospital unit and the type of patient getting care, different ratios are suggested by ONA. One nurse would care for one patient in the labour and delivery unit, for instance, during active labour, and one nurse would care for six patients (or three mother-and-baby pairs) during postpartum recuperation.

One nurse to every four patients would be the ratio in oncology. It would be one nurse to three patients in paediatrics.

The standards in California’s statute, the standards in the proposed federal legislation, and the standards being followed by several Oregon hospitals served as the foundation for the ratios, according to leaders from the ONA.

Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, where it is difficult to find enough nurses and other support workers, would not be subject to the criteria, which would only apply to hospitals.

The ratios outlined in the proposal would not be mandatory for home health agencies, but they would still be expected to develop staffing plans with nurses.

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