Nurse Staffing Battle Rages On in Massachusetts

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media , April 1, 2014

Adequate nurse staffing is no doubt critical to patient safety, and countless studies have linked it to everything from better outcomes to lower odds of being slapped with readmission penalties. But as I've pointed out before, mandated nurse staffing limits are not necessarily a silver bullet.

For example, a study published in the journal Health Services Research, found that although the California law succeeded in boosting nurse staffing, the staffing increase had only "mixed effects on quality." And researchers couldn't be certain whether any recorded quality improvements were actually caused by staffing changes.

Schildmeier says the MNA is confident that it will get the required number of signatures in its last round of signature gathering in order to get the staffing ratio issue on the November ballot. He also says that MNA's polling shows that more than 75% of the Massachusetts public supports this measure.

Whether it's a silver bullet or not, and whether it works to help patient safety or not, it looks like when November rolls around, it will be up to the public to decide.

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is a managing editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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