A bill S.1132, or the Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act of 2015, was introduced in Senate on April 29, 2015, by Oregonian Senator Jeff Merkley of the Democratic Party. The draft law proposes to introduce a mechanism aimed at optimizing the number of nurses working in hospitals. The bill is currently in progress; it awaits being passed by the Senate (“S.1132,” 2015).
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The bill consists of three sections (“Text – S.1132,” 2015). The first one provides the title for the bill. The second section elaborates the findings made by the Congress related to the issue of nurse staffing. The bill refers to a number of studies; according to the research, the patient safety in health care institutions such as hospitals is directly proportionate to the quantity of registered nurses (RNs) employed in that institution; that suboptimal RN staffing results in higher numbers of patient mortality in hospitals; approximately 74% of nurses suffer from acute or chronic stress due to overworking; nurse burnout leads to much worse patient outcomes, which results in additional cases of infection among patients; according to a 2009 study, “sufficient staffing of critical care nurses can prevent adverse patient events, which can cost anywhere from $2,200,200 to $13,200,000,” whereas “nurse staffing costs in the study time period were only $1,360,000” (“Text – S.1132,” 2015).
Thus, it is summarized in the bill that adequate nurse staffing is crucial for better patient outcomes, can save much money that would otherwise be spent on curing avoidable conditions, and betters the nurses’ working conditions. Section 3 provides instructions to be carried out in order to establish sufficient nurse staffing level in Medicare participating hospitals. These hospitals are to develop and implement a nurse staffing plan for the whole institution. For this goal, hospitals are to create nurse staffing committees; they are to consist of non-managing RNs that supply direct patient care by at least 55%, as well as of other hospital staff, including nurse managers and nurses from specialty units. The Committee is to develop a nurse staffing plan for the whole hospital; the plan is a mechanism to make sure that an appropriate quantity of RNs provides the patients of the hospital with care. The number of personnel must allow them to address the “unique characteristics of patients and hospital units” and provide safe, high-quality patient care (“Text – S.1132,” 2015).
Should the bill be adopted as law, it will significantly affect hospitals, nursing staff, and patients. Hospitals will have to create nurse staffing committees that will assess the need in additional nursing personnel. Hospitals will also be responsible for executing those plans, or they will have to pay fines. It is apparent that hospitals’ patients will also benefit from the law, for they will be provided with better nursing care due to the lesser amounts of work the nurses would have to do, and because of the lower levels of nurse exhaustion.
Should the bill be adopted as a law, it will also significantly affect nurses working in hospitals. Of course, RNs and nurse managers will have some additional obligations (e.g., participating in the Committees, managing additional paperwork). On the other hand, this will allow to significantly reduce the overload that nurses very often experience in hospitals, thus improving working conditions for nurses, lowering the level of stress, and decreasing the rates of burnout among the representatives of this profession.
To sum up, it should be noted that the bill S.1132 offers to introduce a new mechanism for regulating the number of nurses working in hospitals and increasing it to a level that would be sufficient for providing safe and effective patient care. The bill will influence hospitals, patients, and nurses; the reduction of nurses’ overload will help improve their working conditions and better the patient outcomes.
S.1132 – Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act of 2015. (2015). Web.
Text – S.1132 – Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act of 2015. (2015). Web.