Pennsylvania’s Safe Staffing Report

In June 2015, the Pennsylvania Joint State Government Commission published their report on “Professional Bedside Nursing in Pennsylvania.” The report points to a clear connection between improved staffing levels and lower rates of adverse outcomes for patients. PSNA advocates for a commonsense, responsible and balanced approach to staffing our hospitals.

Rather than mandated ratios, PSNA supports legislation that focuses on quality patient outcomes through the collaborative efforts of hospital administrators and nurses at the bedside. House Bill 476, introduced by Rep. Mauree Gingrich, establishes staffing committees tasked with the development of individual staffing plans. These staffing committees are unique because they allow nurses to voice their professional opinions based on the needs of the patients and hospital units.

The Joint State Government Commission Report does a good job of pointing to factors – both inside and outside of the nursing profession – that impact patient care. Our elected officials and the general public should be concerned that this report exposes significant differences in staffing levels and workplace environments throughout the Commonwealth. HB 476 meets the Report’s recommendations in the following ways: (1) it uses the expertise of bedside nurses to better effect patients’ quality, safety and outcomes; (2) nurses are empowered to practice and make autonomous decisions within their scope of practice; (3) it recognizes nurses as professionals and partners in providing safe, quality patient care to all patients; and (4) it is key to establishing the right staffing levels for any one unit while taking into account the degree of patients’ sickness, the level of education and experience of the staff, and the design of the unit.

The findings of this report should serve as a wake-up call to decision makers in Harrisburg. It is time for lawmakers to understand that the evidence contained within this report points to proper nurse staffing, a good work environment and highly-educated nursing workforce play a major role in patient safety.