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New bill aimed at improving work conditions for nurses


Photo: SolStock/iStockphoto

Washington — Two lawmakers have reintroduced a bill that would mandate nurse staffing levels in hospitals in an effort to create better working conditions.

According to bill sponsors Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the Nurse Staffing Standards for Hospital Patient Safety and Quality Care Act would protect nurses, drive better patient care and lower health care costs. Specifically, it would set minimum nurse-to-patient staffing requirements, require studies of best practices for nurse staffing and provide whistleblower protections to nurses who advocate the safety of their patients.

“For years, I’ve talked to exhausted nurses who have said they go home at night wondering if they forgot to turn a patient because they were stretched far too thin,” Schakowsky said in a March 30 press release. “The need for federal safe staffing standards is about nurses, patients and everyone’s lives. This bill will improve the health of patients by improving nursing care.”

Schakowsky and Brown previously introduced the legislation (H.R. 3165 and S. 1567) in May 2021, drawing support from National Nurses United; the American Federation of Teachers; the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; the Service Employees International Union; and the AFL-CIO.

“Many nurses have left the bedside because they are unwilling to risk their patients’ lives by being forced to care for them in an unsafe manner,” NNU President Deborah Burger said in the release. “This bill would bring them back to providing direct care at the bedside and in clinics by ensuring their patients receive proper, safe, optimal and timely care.”

Randi Weingarten – president of AFT, whose membership includes nurses and health care workers – added: “Doing nothing will result in more people leaving and create more shortages and push our health care system to the brink. All this threatens our ability to provide care across the country.”

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