Every day, nurses in Ohio communities work long hours doing vital work in our health care system, keeping patients safe and providing the highest quality of care.
Yet too often, nurses are forced to do the impossible, caring for more patients than they have the time or capacity to manage.
That’s why I’m reintroducing the Nurse Staffing Standards for Hospital Patient Safety and Quality Care Act, to set a national minimum nurse-to-patient staffing requirement.
Right now, there’s no concrete and enforceable rule for minimum staffing levels at hospitals. That not only hurts overworked nurses, it also puts patients at risk. We know that clear and consistent safe staffing levels improve outcomes for patients, and that nurse staffing levels are linked to hospital mortality rates.
When a loved one is admitted to the hospital, you hope and expect there will be enough nurses on staff that they’ll be able to give personalized attention to every patient, including your loved one. But too often, nurses are stretched thin, caring for too many patients with not enough support. If someone else on the floor needs immediate attention, caring for your mother or your brother or your daughter may be delayed.
We can prevent that by ensuring nurses are adequately staffed, and protecting their ability to go to hospital management, without fearing potential retaliation.
Our bill provides whistleblower protections to protect nurses who advocate for themselves and for their patients, and it also creates mentorship programs to provide practical clinical experiences and training for students and new nurses. These programs will help new and transitioning nurses adapt to the hospital setting.
It’s time we show our commitment to the people who hold our health care system together, by passing commonsense rules to protect nurses on the job, and protect the patients they serve.
Sherrod Brown is a Democratic U.S. Senator representing Ohio.