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Merkley, Bonamici intro hospital safe nurse staffing bill

February 23, 2018
In The News

WASHINGTON - Sen, Jeff Merkley and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., announced Friday they have introduced bipartisan legislation to make hospitals safer for nurses and patients.


The Safe Staffing for Nurse and Patient Safety Act of 2018, modeled in part from Oregon’s safe staffing legislation, requires hospitals participating in Medicare to implement adequate staffing plans for nursing services and establishes whistleblower protections for patients and employees. Rep. David Joyce (R-OH) is the lead Republican sponsor of the legislation.

“As the husband of a nurse, I know firsthand the many challenges nurses face and how critical their care is to patients,” Merkley said in a news release. “Safe staffing enhances the quality of patient care, reduces medical errors, and increases nurse retention.”

“Nurses are on the front lines of patient care and are a critical part of our health care system,” said Bonamici. “When we improve support for nurses and give them a meaningful voice in staffing decisions, we are saving lives and improving health outcomes for patients. Oregon has long been a leader in safe staffing, with a process to make sure there are enough nurses to meet the needs of the patients in any given unit on any shift. I’m proud to join in introducing this bipartisan legislation modeled on Oregon’s approach to supporting safe staffing levels for nurses.”

The U.S. is projected to experience a shortage of registered nurses that is expected to increase as baby boomers age and the need for health care grows.  This legislation will help improve retention of registered nurses and ensure that patients receive quality care at hospitals.

“Safe nurse staffing is a profoundly important issue for nurses and for the patients we care for. This bill gives direct care nurses — the people who care for patients every day — a voice and a say in staffing decisions, ” said Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) member/ Portland area nurse, Jane Ko, RN, BSN. “ ONA is proud to have some of Oregon’s leaders in Washington DC take the lead on this critical issue.”

To date, seven states, including Oregon, have passed similar legislation to ensure safe staffing by utilizing a hospital-wide safe staffing committee.