Massachusetts lawmakers have passed a bill to mandate how many nurses must be on duty in intensive-care units—and hospital officials are encouraging the governor to make it law.
This week both chambers of the Massachusetts Legislature unanimously approved a bill that would require every patient in a licensed intensive-care bed to have at least one nurse caring for them, except in cases where the ICU nurse determines she can care for two patients, because one of her charges is less acutely ill. Staffing in Massachusetts ICUs could never drop below one nurse for every two patients.
“There is a strong role for the staff nurse and nurse leaders to decide what the patients' needs are for nursing care, and there is a patient acuity requirement built into this legislation,” said Jeanette Ives Erickson, chief nurse and senior vice president for patient care at 947-bed Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “That really allows nurses to define the care that each and every patient needs.”