The USA National Nurses United is proposing for minimum, mandated, nurse-to-patient staffing ratios to protect patients’ right to nursing care. Every patient deserves a single standard of high-quality care. The ratios, coupled with nurses’ powerful voice of advocacy secured in collective bargaining, protect patients from complications that arise from missed care such as medical errors, health care disparities, infections, and so much more.
Currently, California is the only state in the USA to enact an enforceable RN-to-patient staffing law, thanks to the determined, multi-year efforts of members of the California Nurses Association (CNA).
CNA was the author, sponsor and driving force behind the landmark law, which was signed in 1999. The hospital industry and its allies have tried repeatedly to overturn or weaken the law, but CNA members continue to successfully defend ratios.
When CNA founded National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC) in 2005 to represent and advocate for nurses outside of California, NNOC continued the fight to expand the protections of ratios across the nation. Today, CNA/NNOC and the national nursing union it belongs to, National Nurses United, fight to pass ratios laws at both the state and federal level.
A seminal 2010 University of Pennsylvania study showed that the California law saves thousands of patient lives, and that if California’s 1:5 ratios were matched, surgical units in New Jersey hospitals would have 14% fewer deaths and Pennsylvania 11% fewer deaths. Consequently, NNU worked with NNU members across the nation and with federal legislators to introduce bills that would make these same lifesaving protections the law from coast to coast.
As the authority on nurse-to-patient ratios, NNU is poised to broaden the victories won by California nurses and patients. Now is the time for every nurse to become a part of the national movement for safe staffing.