Pennsylvania Legislature Pushed to Take Up Patient Safety Issue It Has Long Avoided
Health Care Access & Coverage
Penn Medicine CEO Calls for Passage of PA Nurse Staffing Legislation
Would Establish Minimum Nurse-to-Patient Ratios for PA Hospitals
Joining with one of the world’s most renowned nurse staffing experts, LDI Senior Fellow Kevin B. Mahoney, Chief Executive Officer of the University of Pennsylvania Health System, co-authored an op-ed article in the Sunday edition of Penn Live endorsing the legislative bill that would establish minimum nurse-to-patient ratios in Pennsylvania hospitals.
Writing with LDI Senior Fellow Linda H. Aiken, Founding Director of Penn Nursing’s Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research, Mahoney said “the evidence supporting minimum nurse-to-patient ratios is clear and compelling.”
Mahoney’s public endorsement of the Patient Safety Act that passed by the Pennsylvania House last week and is now moving on for a Senate vote, is a major event in the decades-long battle in which hospital industry lobbyists have worked tirelessly to defeat such nurse staffing legislation in statehouses across the country.
Aiken, PhD, RN, is an internationally recognized authority on the relationship between nursing work environments and the quality of patient care outcomes. She has led some of the largest health services research projects ever done on this critical issue.
Penn Live and its Patriot-News newspaper are the primary news platforms in Harrisburg, the state capital. They are heavily read by statehouse legislators and their staffs.
Large Nurse Workforce
The University of Pennsylvania Health System has six Magnet Recognized hospitals and networks of ambulatory facilities throughout 27 counties in Eastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey. It employs thousands of nurses, and annually logs 6.5 million outpatients and $9.2 billion in revenue.
“Over two decades of research at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research has shown that each additional patient added to a hospital nurse’s workload is associated with a 7% or higher risk of a patient death,” Mahoney and Aiken wrote. “Hundreds of studies have shown a host of benefits when nurse staffing ratios are improved: Patients recover more quickly, stay in the hospital for a shorter length of time, and are readmitted less frequently because they receive more attentive care and avoid preventable hospital-acquired conditions.”
Follow the Evidence
“Opposition to the Patient Safety Act has frequently hinged on whether hospitals could comply, especially as the entire industry is under significant financial strain,” the authors continued. “These concerns are valid and well-meaning, and efforts to apply safe staffing standards statewide should be coupled with initiatives to strengthen Pennsylvania’s nursing workforce and ensure the long-term sustainability of hospital care in our communities. We should not be afraid to follow the evidence toward new approaches when the status quo is broken.”
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