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The May 13 Bangor Daily News editorial questions if mandated safe staffing ratios will solve the complex issues facing hospitals and nurses. These complex issues facing hospitals, nurses, patients and our health care system are many. LD 1639 can’t fix many of these issues, but it will increase patient safety and attract nurses back to the bedside.
The true “economic and human resource realities to consider” should prioritize patient safety, nurse retention and economics. Of the approximately 1 million registered nurses not working as nurses in the U.S., many would consider returning to the profession they love if staffing improved. Nurse turnover can cost a hospital between $4.4 million and $7 million annually and can increase greater dependence hospitals have on traveling nurses, which can further increase the financial burden on hospitals.
Some nurses are choosing not to work in hospitals at the bedside because of unsafe staffing, and the moral distress and injury this causes. The 20 years of the California safe staffing law has revealed the benefits of safe staffing yet it’s nurses’ stories of the human indignity of not getting a patient to the bathroom in time or of missing changes in condition that can result in devastating patient outcomes due to poor staffing that prove the indisputable benefits of safe staffing.
Nurses cannot be in two places at once. It’s the place that they are not where bad things happen. LD 1639 will help nurses like me to provide the safe, compassionate care that drew us to this profession and keep us there.
Amy Strum, registered nurse