A Look At Both Sides…

The following is a summary of the two bills currently being discussed on Beacon Hill in regard to patient safety and nurse staffing levels. This is not a complete listing of all aspects of each bill.


HB2663, filed by the Mass. Nurses Association (An Act Ensuring Patient Safety, and also know as the nurse staffing ratios bill), proposes:

  • Minimum RN-to-patient ratios on all hospital units and in all departments.
  • As a condition of licensing, each facility must submit prospective staffing plans each year (to the Department of Public Health) and an audit of the preceding year’s staffing plan.
  • Unlicensed personnel are prohibited from performing tasks which require the clinical assessment, judgment, and skill of a licensed registered nurse. Such functions include formulation of the plan of nursing care, administration of medications, and health teaching and health counseling.
  • Full-time registered nurses must be designated by facilities to be responsible for: the overall quality assurance of nursing care, the overall execution of resources to ensure sufficient staffing, and occupational health and safety are employed by the facility.
  • No facility may employ mandatory overtime.
  • Any facility that fails to adhere to rules and regulations shall be subject to up to a $25,000 civil penalty and/or revocation of the facility’s license or registration.

Information gleaned from the MNA Web site and the filed HB2663 legislation.
SB1260, filed by Sen. Richard Moore (D-Uxbridge) (An Act to Promote Safe Patient Care and Support the Nursing Profession, and also known as the Patient Safety Act), proposes:

  • A public accountability and state oversight process for the development of safe-staffing patterns.
  • A companion process to report on that staffing and on nationally recognized nurse-sensitive performance measures.
  • A process to bolster the supply of nurses and nurse faculty through financial aid and loan repayment incentives; priority nurse faculty hiring at state colleges and universities; state matching grants for hospitals that provide faculty financial assistance; and a state review of current workforce initiatives.
  • The nurse-run Mass. Center for Nursing as a repository for all of the Commonwealth’s nursing data. This would require a $30 million appropriation.
  • Required input from direct-care staff, posted plans, DPH oversight, and full disclosure of variance and corrective action taken in regard to staffing.

Information gleaned from the Western Mass. Hospitals Coalition and the filed SB1260 legislation.