OPINION: Fight for safe nurse-to-patient ratios. Call to support NJ A1470

ABOVE: Public domain from Wikimedia Commons

A letter to the editor by Kelly Clark of Medford

I’m not a nurse, but I care about nurse staffing because I have been a patient in a hospital. And, no doubt, I will be a patient again someday.

Nurses play a critical role in patient outcomes. They keep track of medications; they keep track of vital signs; and they are the liaison between the patient and their doctor. When you’re in the hospital, who do you talk to the most? Your nurse!

But if hospitals understaff their nursing departments, nurses can’t give the best care to every patient. Their attention is divided in too many ways. They can’t respond as quickly. There is an increased risk for errors with medication, falls, spread of infection, and death.

So why do hospitals understaff? One reason is saving money. But at what cost? Overworked nurses and underperforming patient outcomes. It borders on corporate negligence.

The staffing regulations have not been updated for over forty years and patient needs have changed greatly in that time. A bill has already been introduced in the state senate (S-989), but the assembly is dragging its feet with a bill in committee.

Governor Phil Murphy has said he will sign Safe Ratios legislation, if it ever reaches his desk. We need to push our assemblymen and women to get A1470 to the floor of the assembly. Patient safety must be our highest priority because we all will most likely be a patient someday.

Editor’s note: The opinions in this letter are the author’s only.

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