Nurse-patient limit bill heads to Governor’s desk

BOSTON (WWLP) - Concerned nurses throughout the state have lobbied the Massachusetts legislature for a clear-cut patient limit for the last fifteen years.

“They take a pledge to do great care for people and so when they’re coming forward and saying we need an adjustment, we need to listen to them,” said State Representative Denise Andrews (R-Orange).

With help from state lawmakers, the statewide nurse’s union and hospital management agreed on the compromise that nurses working in intensive care units will care for one patient at a time, unless they feel that they can handle more.

“Great compromise for the nurses, great compromise for the hospitals, but especially it’s a great compromise, I think, for the patients here in the Commonwealth,” said State Senator James Welch (D-West Springfield).

The nurses union initially wanted patient limits across all hospital units, but believe a one-to-one patient-nurse ratio in the ICU is a good first step.

“It is where patients come in that nurses really and truly have to have their eyes on all the time. It’s the difference between life and death,” said the Massachusetts Nurses Association President Donna Kelly-Williams.

This week, the Massachusetts House and Senate approved the measure unanimously. The nurses union agreed to drop their ballot campaigns if Governor Patrick signs the bill into law.

The bill is now headed to the Governor’s desk for approval and the union is confident he will sign it.

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