Bay State Addresses Nurse Safety, But Is It Enough?

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , August 2, 2010

Even with the best planning, MHA said it is impossible to account for every potentially violent situation in the hospital setting, owing to the hospital's unique healing mission, and the fact that it is open 24 hours a day to the general public. "While important safeguards are continually updated and improved, healthcare facilities are stressful environments and violence can be perpetrated by patients, families, friends, visitors, and even co-workers," MHA said.

The MHA raises valid points. For hospitals, staffing ratios could prove to be extremely expensive, and the benefits could be questionable if the management and scheduling aren't done properly. This is a legitimate bottom line issue. 

However, MNA can make the emotional connection with the public on this issue. Overworked nurses and long waits in the ER provide visceral images for the public many of whom have endured that experience. The argument that violence occurs in part because understaffed nurses can't adequately control upset patients is simple, commonsensical, and easily understood for most of the public. This message will resonate even more in the coming months and years as millions of newly insured Americans?unable to find care elsewhere—head to the ER for medical treatment. 

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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