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Have you experienced an inadequate staffing situation at your hospital?

Tell us about it! Print out our Short Staffing Form and mail it to:

1 Fayette Street, Suite 475
Conshohocken, PA 19428

Safe Staffing through Nurse-to-Patient Ratios

Tens of thousands of preventable patient deaths occur due to low nurse staffing levels in hospitals. Ensuring enough direct care nurses are by patients' bedsides would drastically improve patient care. The California Nurses Association (CNA/NNOC) succeeded in winning legislation that sets minimum nurse-to-patient ratios for all of California's hospitals, creating improvements in the quality of care and in recruiting and retaining nurses. Since California enacted is ratio law in 2002, nearly 100,000 additional RNs have been licensed, a yearly average that is triple the number before the law. Here in Pennsylvania, PASNAP is fighting to win similar legislation for the sake of patients and nurses (see below).

Facts about Nurse-to-Patient Ratios (click the to read)

Ratios Improve Patient Care
Ratios Help Solve the Nursing Shortage
Ratios Create Savings for Hospitals
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For more research on how ratios improve patient safety, create savings, improve the nursing shortage, see our collection of Research on Ratios.

Pennsylvania's Proposed Legislation for Nurse-to-Patient Ratios

State Senator Daylin Leach (D-17) is the primary sponsor of Senate Bill 438, our ratios bill in the Pennsylvania Senate. There are currently 11 Co-Sponsors on the bill. (Updated 9/27/11) Click here to see a complete list of co-sponsors.

SB 438 was referred to Pennsylvania Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee on February 7, 2011.

On September 26, 2011, State Representatives Phyllis Mundy (D-120) and Deberah Kula (D-52) joined together to introduce a nurse-to-patient ratios bill in the Pennsylvania State House. This bill, modeled on California’s extremely successful 1999 law, would amend the Health Care Facilities Act to establish life-saving minimum nurse-to-patient ratios throughout the hospital. There are currently 40 Co-Sponsors on the bill. (Updated 9/27/11) Click here to see a complete list of co-sponsors.
Click here to find your Legislators and urge them to support this legislation.

Minimum Staffing Requirements of the Pennsylvania Hospital Patient Protection Act

These bills would establish minimum nurse-to-patient ratios. Implementation and enforcement would be overseen by the Department of Health. The proposed minimum ratios are in the chart below. Only direct care nurses can be counted in the ratios, and the ratios would cover all shifts. Nothing would preclude any facility from implementing higher nurse staffing levels.

The ratios shown in the box are the minimums that each hospital must follow in its staffing plan and must be adjusted upwards to reflect actual patient acuity. Click here for text of current Senate bill, currently in the Pennsylvania Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee.

Type of Unit Minimum Standard
Operating Room
Trauma Emergency Room
Active Labor Patient
Conscious Sedation
1 RN : 1 Patient
Critical Care in the ER
Critical Care
Intensive Care
Neonatal Intensive Care
Labor and Delivery
Burn Unit
1 RN : 2 Patients
Emergency Room
1 RN : 3 Patients
Other Specialty Units
Pre-surgery, admissions units, ambulatory surgical units
1 RN : 4 Patients
Rehabilitation or Skilled Nursing Facility 1 RN : 5 Patients
Postpartum 1 RN : 6 Patients (3 Couplets)
1 RN : 2 Immediate Postpartum
Well-baby Nursery 1 RN : 5 Patients
1 RN : 4 Recently Born

National Legislation for Nurse-to-Patient Ratios

In collaboration with the National Nurses United PASNAP is working to pass safe staffing legislation on the national level. In the U.S. Senate, S. 992 was introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer from California, and in the U.S. House, H.R. 2187 was introduced by Rep. Janice Schakowsky from Illinois.

These bills would address the national shortage of hospital direct-care registered nurses; provide minimum safe patient protection standards — such as safe staffing ratios — for short-term and long-term acute-care hospitals in the United States; protect direct care registered nurse as patient advocate, create registered nurse education grants, and living stipends to recruit and retain direct-care registered nurses.

Call U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (202-224-4254) and Bob Casey (202-224-6324) and urge them to sign on to S. 992.

Contact your U.S. Representative and urge him or her to sign on to H.R. 2187.