"Not Enough Staffed Nurses": Standards Of Care Act

By KBJR News 1

February 13, 2013 Updated Feb 13, 2013 at 11:07 PM CDT

St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) - We spoke with two leaders from Essentia Health St. Mary's and they are both against the Standards of Care Act.

One official says the Act offsets Essentia's goal of reducing costs, improving outcomes, and investing in the patients.

The Standards of Care Act would implement a system of record keeping for hospitals and punishments for those that fall short of those standards.

The Standards of Care Act was introduced at the Capitol by Senator Jeff Hayden.

He was joined by members of the Minnesota Nurses Association.

"Study after study shows proper staffing levels lowers healthcare costs. Other states that have implemented and or studied staffing standards, reports the probability of death drops by double digits," Senator Jeff Hayden, (DFL) Minneapolis, said.

Senator Hayden says this legislation puts the decision of patient's safety in hospitals at the bedside and not at the capitol.

But that depends who you talk with.

Some local healthcare leaders say if implemented, the Act will do the exact opposite.

"It's a real concern to us as we look to make investments in the–to improve the quality of care and reduce costs for the purchasers across our entire region that we serve," Michael Mahoney, VP of Public Policy at Essentia Heatlh St. Mary's, said.

As the nurses spoke out at the capital Wednesday hospitals fired back arguing that such staffing decisions should be left to the medical professionals not lawmakers.

"To take two steps back and then simply to satisfy an mandated law to hire more RN's that aren't necessarily necessary in order to satisfy to quality measures we'll be reporting on," Mahoney said.

If a hospital falls short of staffing at the mandated level...the nurses association wants the facility to be penalized with fines or sanctions.

"We want our nurse to be apart of the decision making for care that is required at the bedside, but we–quotas tie our hands to be flexible, to be able to put nurses where they can work. Where they are competent, where they can work and where they can meet the needs of the patients we care for," Sandra McCarthy, Chief Nursing Officer at Essentia Health St. Mary's, said.

I had the chance to talk to Senator Hayden and he says nurses have been telling him patients are in danger because there are not enough nurses on duty.

The act will now head to a series of committee meetings at the capitol before going to the House and Senate.

Justin Reis, NNC.