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Wednesday, June 28, 2023
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Patient Safety Act Passes House Floor Vote in Overwhelming, Bipartisan Fashion
Nurses From Across PA On Hand to Mark the Historic Passage, Two Decades in the Making, of the Only Proven Answer to Pennsylvania’s Current Nurse Staffing Crisis
“The vote affirmed that patient safety isn’t something that belongs to Democrats or Republicans, or Union or non-union members, or any other group that claims to know what’s best for patients. We, the nurses, know what’s best for patients, and what’s best for our patients is a minimum safe staffingstandard of care.”
Harrisburg, PA – Today, patients in Pennsylvania won! The PA House of Representatives passed the Patient Safety Act (House Bill 106) with an overwhelming bipartisan majority (119 to 84). Initially introduced in 2003, this life-saving, money-saving legislation that seeks to set a minimum safe staffing standard in the commonwealth to ensure that every Pennsylvanian receives excellent healthcare no matter where or in what acute care facility they seek it, received its first hearing (on May 2nd) and vote (on June 6th) in the House Health Committee this year.
“Today’s vote for the commonsense protection of patients has been a journey of nearly two decades,” said Wayne Reich, MSN, MBA, RN, Chief Executive Officer of PSNA, the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association. “And with every passing year, and every new legislature, and every well-intentioned governor, that protection has been delayed and denied. But no more.”
“Today, every House member who cast an affirmative vote for the Patient Safety Act struck a blow to the wall that separates patients from the best possible standard of care,” said Reich. “The vote affirmed that patient safety isn’t something that belongs to Democrats or Republicans, or Union or non-union members, or any other group that claims to know what’s best for patients. We, the nurses, know what’s best for patients, and what’s best for our patients is a minimum safe staffing standard of care.”
Increasingly unsafe staffing levels and conditions have been driving RNs from the bedside, precipitating a full-blown staffing/retention crisis that affects the quality of bedside care and the health and safety of frontline caregivers across the state. According to research conducted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research, nurse staffing on med-surg units in PA hospitals averaged 5.6 patients per nurse and ranged from 3.3 to as many as 11 patients per nurse. This is a huge variation, one associated with adverse outcomes for patients, nurses, and the financial health of hospitals. The Patient Safety Act aims to fix the nurse retention crisis and the uneven care patients in Pennsylvania receive by establishing safe minimum staffing levels, based on patient acuity, in all Pennsylvania hospitals, in every corner of the commonwealth.”
“Today, we are going to plug the leaks in the bucket and listen to what our bedside nurses tell us they need to care for us,” said the Patient Safety Act’s Prime Sponsor state Rep. Tom Mehaffie.
“This is a historic and proud day for nurses in Pennsylvania and, more importantly, a step closer to safer care and better patient outcomes in every facility across the state,” said Maureen May, longtime Temple University Hospital Mother and Baby nurse and the president of PASNAP, the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals. “Legislators listened to the most trusted profession in the country, considered the objective scientific evidence that proves safe staffing saves lives, and understood that retention and recruitment of RNs directly correlate to working conditions. We are thrilled and even more committed to continuing to advocate for our patients as the bill moves to the Senate.”
The Patient Safety Act has the support of every major organization of bedside nurses in Pennsylvania – representing more than 100,000 nurses in the commonwealth – the American Nurses Association, Gov. Josh Shapiro and his administration, and legislators from both sides of the aisle. It is the answer – the only answer – to the current nurse staffing crisis that is driving down the number of nurses willing to work at the bedside and depressing the quality of patient care across Pennsylvania.
“We honor every nurse and patient advocate who built our grassroots movement with unionized and non-unionized nurses alike to protect patients, families, and communities,” said Silas Russell, Executive Vice-President and Political Director of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania. “We are proud of our statewide coalition who worked closely together with our partners and allies to pass the Patient Safety Act with an overwhelming bipartisan majority. It’s a testament to our collective strength.”
“Patients are one step closer to getting the care they deserve when we pass this legislation in the state senate and get it to Gov. Shapiro’s desk,” said Michelle Boyle, a 29-year veteran RN working at Allegheny General Hospital and a member leader in the Nurse Alliance and SEIU Healthcare PA. “Nurses demand the proper staffing, resources, and tools to provide continuity of care. That’s why we need to enact the Patient Safety Act now and why this is so urgent for nurses and patients alike.”
“Unsafe nurse staffing levels lead to nurses missing signs,” said state Rep. Tarik Khan, nurse, former president of the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association, and a driving force behind the bill. “That is called a ‘failure to rescue.’”
Today, our representatives did not fail to rescue. They moved to ensure that every Pennsylvanian, no matter where they live or seek medical care, receives equal care.
The bill heads to the Senate next.
“250,000 Pennsylvania-based nurses and 25 years of research can’t be wrong,” said Debbi Bozeman, RN, surgical trauma nurse at St. Mary Medical Center in Bucks County and the Political and Community Outreach Chair for the St. Mary United Nurses Association. “Nurses from every corner of Pennsylvania have been carrying out the legacy of Florence Nightingale and advocating for their patients for decades. Today, a mark in history was made when the Patient Safety passed the House. It’s on to the Senate!”
The Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP), SEIU Healthcare PA, the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association (PSNA), JNESO, PSEA, AFSCME, and Nurses of Pennsylvania have united in their support of the Patient Safety Act (HB106 and SB247), because patients deserve the same high standard of care no matter where they seek medical attention, whether it’s in a large urban medical center or a small facility in a rural area.