Media highlights alarming nurse survey in context of Massachusetts safe staffing bill
July 2, 2003 -- Numerous recent media reports have described a new survey in which 3 in 10 Massachusetts nurses surveyed report that they know of patients who have died because of nurse short-staffing, linking the survey to the ongoing debate over pending Massachusetts legislation that would mandate safe nurse-to-patient ratios.
The 600-nurse survey, conducted for the Massachusetts Nurses Association by an independent research firm, found that nearly 30% of Massachusetts nurses knew of a patient who had died because of nurse short-staffing, and that 93% believed that burnout from high patient loads caused nurses to seek work outside of hospitals, contributing to the critical shortage of bedside nurses.
The reports--which include a front-page piece in the June 22 Boston Globe by Rhonda Stewart, a June 19 Boston Herald piece by Jennifer Heldt Powell, a June 19 Associated Press piece, a June 18 State House News Service report by Amy Lambiaso, and a powerful, in-depth piece on the New England Cable News' "NewsNight" program--together provided a wealth of coverage for the survey and for the role hundreds of nurses are playing in pushing for the safe staffing legislation. They also included accounts by individual nurses about the difficulties they face every day in trying to care for too many patients in too little time, with often disastrous results.
The legislation, modeled on a California statute, would reportedly mandate specific ratios, depending on the unit and patient conditions involved.
See the Massachusetts Nurses Association's summary of the survey. See the executive summary of the survey from the independent research firm. See a PowerPoint presentation of the full questionnaire and its results.
For more information on the survey and the Safe Staffing Campaign, visit the Massachusetts Nurses Association web site