Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety: Rep. Jan Schakowsky Introduces Legislation to Improve Nurse-to-Patient Ratios for Enhanced Patient Safety

Aug 01, 2013, 09:15 ET from Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety

CHICAGO, Aug. 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky recently reintroduced the Nurse Staffing Standards for Patient Safety and Quality Care Act. The proposed bill mandates minimum nurse-to-patient ratios at hospitals across the country.

The bill was first introduced in 2011 in light of research that linked low nurse staffing levels with higher probabilities of adverse events. As Rep. Schakowsky explains:

"This bill will help save the lives of patients by improving nursing care in our nation's hospitals … It's time that hospitals develop nurse staffing plans that meets safe nurse-to-patient ratios to ensure quality care and patient safety."

Michael Wong, founder and executive director of the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety says, "Numerous studies have found a direct correlation between patient outcomes and nurse staffing levels. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky seeks to address this issue and enhance patient safety."

According to research conducted by Linda Aiken, PhD, RN, and her colleagues, "Educational Levels of Hospital Nurses and Surgical Patient Mortality" found that in hospitals with higher proportions of nurses educated at the baccalaureate level or higher, surgical patients experienced lower mortality and failure-to-rescue rates.

As Ms. Aiken explains:

"Adequate staffing is essential to patient safety. Our study found a direct correlation between the number of nurses holding a bachelor's degree and a reduction in the likelihood of patients dying within 30 days of admission and the odds of failure-to-rescue. For every ten percent increase in the number of nurses holding bachelor's degrees, there was a corresponding five percent decrease in both patient deaths and failure-to-rescue."

Says Mr. Wong, "Providing nurses with the tools and support they need to care for patients and ensure their safety is also critical."

A time and motion study of 767 medical-surgical nurses in 36 hospitals found that only 7.2 percent of their time is spent performing tasks such as assessing patients and reading vital signs.

Patient monitoring and assessment are crucial for preventing adverse events. Technology can amplify the nurse's ability to monitor and assess patients.

As Juliana Morath, RN, MS (chief quality and safety officer, Vanderbilt University Medical Center) says:

"Human vigilance is required but insufficient, continuous electronic monitoring needs to be there to support and back up nurses, and allow them to visit a patient while monitors are continuously assessing other patients for various physiological parameters (such as, oxygenation with pulse oximeter and adequacy of ventilation with capnography)."

Hospitals in America need more nurses, according to some experts. Rep. Schakowsky's bill seeks to address that need at a federal policy level for all hospitals.

"Moreover," says Mr. Wong, "as Ms. Morath emphasizes, increased patient safety is a combination of nursing vigilance with continuous electronic monitoring."

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The Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety (PPAHS) is an advocacy group devoted to improving patient health and safety. PPAHS supporters include physicians, patients, individuals, and organizations.

PPAHS recently released a concise checklist that reminds caregivers of the essential steps needed to be taken to initiate Patient-Controlled Analgesia (PCA) with a patient and to continue to assess that patient's use of PCA. For more information and to download the PCA safety checklist, please visit

SOURCE Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety