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PRESS RELEASE: Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act Passes Assembly


“Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act” Passes Assembly

Bill Sets Standards for Adequate Hospital, Nursing Home Staffing

(6/14/16 – Albany)  The New York State Assembly today passed the “Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act” (A8580A/S782) with bi-partisan support.  The bill would set a maximum number of patients that nurses and other “direct care staff” can care for in hospitals and nursing homes (staffing ratios) and was based on peer-reviewed academic and evidence-based recommendations.

“Safe staffing is a critical step to ensuring the safety of patients and the safety of nurses,” said Assembly Member Aileen Gunther, the lead sponsor of the bill. “Study after study has shown that investments made in nurses are good investments – whether it’s ending mandatory overtime, requiring safe patient handling policies, or setting safe staffing ratios. As our system of care is evolving, patient outcomes are a key factor in determining provider payments. Safe staffing will improve outcomes, save money, and save lives.”

“Safe staffing saves lives, improves outcomes and reduces avoidable patient injuries,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried.  “Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) determined the odds of patient death increased by 7% for each additional patient the nurse must care for at one time.  The ratios and hours specified in this bill are based on peer-reviewed and evidence-based recommendations, and will ensure that hospitals and nursing homes are safer and provide higher quality care.”

Safe staffing ratios also reduce other avoidable, adverse patient outcomes. Research by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services) demonstrates that hospitals with higher nurse-to-patient ratios have lower rates of pneumonia, shock, cardiac arrest, urinary tract infections and upper gastrointestinal bleeds. These complications increase both patient mortality and facility costs.

As we have seen in California, which in 2004 was the first state to mandate nurse staffing ratios in hospitals, increased staffing does not mean higher costs for hospitals and nursing homes. Workforce costs are offset by savings from improved patient outcomes and fewer adverse events, which in turn reduces malpractice costs and other penalties. Also, adequate nurse staffing reduces staff burnout and work-related injuries.

“This is a historic moment for patients, families and nurses in New York,” said Pat Kane, RN, Staten Island University Hospital and Treasurer, New York State Nurses Association. “The New York State Assembly demonstrates great leadership in the passage of the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act.  Our special thanks to Assembly Member Aileen Gunther for her tireless and effective leadership in pushing this bill forward. This legislation provides that every unit of every hospital in the state will be assured of enough nurses to care for patients.  Now it is up to the State Senate to show leadership as well.”

“The need for safe staffing standards to protect New York’s nursing home residents has never been more evident,”said Richard Mollott, Executive Director of the Long Term Care Community Coalition. “We salute Assembly Member Gunther, Assembly Health Committee Chair Gottfried, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie for their leadership, and call on the Senate and Governor to join in support of this bill which will undoubtedly improve care and dignity for the 100,000-plus New Yorkers who rely on nursing home care every day.”

The bill is now before the Senate Health Committee.