Nurses March in Support of Staffing Bill; Hill Backs Measure That Sets Nurse-to-Patient Ratios Believed to Improve Care

By Cox, Jeremy | The Florida Times Union, February 17, 2010 | Go to article overview
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Nurses March in Support of Staffing Bill; Hill Backs Measure That Sets Nurse-to-Patient Ratios Believed to Improve Care


Cox, Jeremy, The Florida Times Union


Byline: JEREMY COX

A state lawmaker from Northeast Florida said Tuesday he plans to back a bill that aims to cap the number of hospital patients under a nurse's care at any one time.

The measure is needed to improve patient safety and to make nursing, long plagued by a nationwide staffing shortage, a more attractive career path, the bill's proponent's say. Hundreds of registered nurses representing two nurse unions and a nurse lobbying group plan to march today in Tallahassee in support of the bill.

"I think the timing is right," Sen. Tony Hill, D-Jacksonville, said of the bill. He plans to file it as soon as a companion House bill is ready. "It's an industry you can't ship overseas. At a time when we need jobs, why not?"

A copy of the proposed bill provided by a nursing union representative sets strict staffing minimums that vary depending on the type of care being delivered.

BY THE NUMBERS

The suggested ratios include:

- In the emergency room, no more than two patients per nurse.

- In labor and delivery, no more than one woman in active delivery per nurse.

- In medical-surgical units, one nurse for every four patients at most.

- In well-baby nurseries, the limit is six infants per nurse.

The bill prevents hospitals from "averaging" the number of patients and nurses during a given shift to meet the requirements.

The Florida Hospital Association "strongly opposes" the bill, said the lobbying group's president, Bruce Rueben.

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