DES PLAINES, Ill, May 9, 2013 -- The Emergency Nurses Association announced its strong support for the recently-introduced Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act of 2013. This legislation, which was introduced by Representative Lois Capps (D-CA) and cosponsored by Representative David Joyce (R-OH), will improve both patient safety and quality of care by enhancing the voice of nurses in hospital staffing decisions.
The Safe Staffing Act would require Medicare participating hospitals to create staffing committees comprised of a majority of staff nurses. The committees would be charged with developing unit-specific nurse staffing plans that take into account numerous factors to ensure high-quality care focused on the medical needs of the patient. At least 55 percent of the committee members must be direct care nurses.
In establishing their plans, the staffing committee must consider the level of education, training, and experience of the registered nurses providing care and the staffing levels recommended by specialty nursing organizations. Further, the plans must establish upwardly adjustable minimum ratios of registered nurses to patients for each unit and be based upon patient numbers and the variable intensity of care needed.
"Research has clearly shown that patient care is substantially improved when we have the appropriate nurse staffing levels," said ENA President JoAnn Lazarus. "This legislation develops a well-thought out procedure for determining what those staffing levels should be, thereby improving the standard of care for all patients including those in the emergency departments."
"I particularly support the provisions of the Safe Staffing Act that take into account the differences between various hospital units and the experience level of the nurses," Lazarus said of the legislation. "I commend both Representative Capps and Representative Joyce for their efforts on behalf of patients and the nursing profession."
About the Emergency Nurses Association
ENA, which has more than 40,000 members worldwide, is the only professional nursing association dedicated to defining the future of emergency nursing and emergency care through advocacy, expertise, innovation and leadership. Founded in 1970, ENA develops and disseminates education and practice standards and guidelines, and affords consultation to both private and public entities regarding emergency nurses and their practice. Additional information is available at ENA's Web site, www.ena.org.