Mass. nurses push for patient limits

BOSTON (WWLP) – Frustrated nurses made sure their voices were heard on Beacon Hill. 22News was there when they rallied for smaller workloads.

In order for nurses to provide adequate care for your loved ones, they are usually assigned three to four patients a day. But when those numbers jump to five or six, serious complications can develop.

“In the past five, six years it’s gone absolutely downhill. We don’t have enough people to take care of the patients, we don’t have enough nurses. If one nurse calls out on a shift in the whole building, we’re crippled,” said Providence Hospital’s Diane Michael.

Concerned nurses are pushing lawmakers to pass a law to limit four patients for every nurse. The bill will take into account the different levels of care in each hospital unit. Those who oppose the bill say every patient is different and argue how care can be measured by a number.

“Care is designed based not on a number, but about the needs of the patient. Patient needs change during the day so it needs to be managed and changed to accommodate those very individual needs all of the time,” said Sharon Gale of the Organization of Nurse Leaders.

In order to reduce patient loads, facilities would have to hire more nurses. While hospitals are reimbursed by insurance companies, a large chunk of their own budget goes towards paying staff.

Nurses that support a patient limit are working toward a November ballot question that would let the voters decide.

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