Patients deserve a standard of care, nurses say

“Every patient deserves a standard of care,” Sandie Anderson, a registered nurse at Fairview Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming, said  at a press conference Feb. 13 at the State Capitol.

She and Susan Kreitz, a registered nurse colleague at Fairview Lakes, were speaking in support of a Standards of Care Act, legislation introduced Feb. 14 by Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis, and by Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights.

The Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) called the press conference to explain why the legislation will increase safety of patients and will also reduce health care costs.

Linda Hamilton, president of the Nurses Association, said patients are needlessly at risk because too few nurses are on duty when the patients need them.

The MNA says nurses “are legally and ethically bound to provide safe patient care and advocate for patient interests.” The MNA says that despite registered nurses regularly reporting situations in which the safety of a patient is compromised, hospitals refuse to address the problems with a permanent fix.

In a handout, the MNA said patient care is growing more complex while the period of time in which RNs have to treat them is compressed. The MNA argues that patients are suffering the consequences in the form of near misses, preventable errors, avoidable complications, increased lengths of stay, readmissions and even injury and death.

The MNA, with this legislation carried by Hayden and Atkins, is seeking consistent standards of nursing care it claims will eliminate unnecessary complications, reduce preventable medical errors and curb extended hospital stays, thus reducing risks to patients and saving health care dollars.

Hayden said proper staffing lowers health care costs. The legislation is meant to monitor and enforce standards, he said. He predicts that discussion on this legislation will be contentious but open.

“This legislation puts the decision at the bedside, not the Capitol,” Hayden said. “Other states that have implemented and or studied staffing standards report that the probability of deaths drops by double digits,” he said

Atkins said it is time to have a conversation on these concerns and try to improve patient care and decrease health care costs.