Three Pieces of National Legislation Aim to Protect Patients and Nurses
Three bills introduced to the U.S. Congress in 2023 have brought issues affecting nurses and patients to the forefront. They include:
- The Nurse Staffing Standards for Hospital Patient Safety and Quality Care Act of 2023 (S. 1113/H.R. 2530): Introduced in March 2023, this bill would require that “a hospital’s staffing plan shall provide that, at all times during each shift within a unit of the hospital, and with a full complement of ancillary and support staff, a direct care registered nurse may be assigned to not more than the following number of patients in that unit:
- One patient in trauma emergency units.
- One patient in operating room units, provided that a minimum of 1 additional person serves as a scrub assistant in such unit.
- Two patients in critical care units, including neonatal intensive care units, emergency critical care and intensive care units, labor and delivery units, coronary care units, acute respiratory care units, postanesthesia units, and burn units.
- Three patients in emergency room units, pediatrics units, stepdown units, telemetry units, antepartum units, and combined labor, deliver, and postpartum units.
- Four patients in medical-surgical units, intermediate care nursery units, acute care psychiatric units, and other specialty care units.
- Five patients in rehabilitation units and skilled nursing units.
- Six patients in postpartum (3 couplets) units and well-baby nursery units.”
- The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (S. 1176/H.R. 2663): Introduced in April 2023, this bill aims to protect healthcare workers from workplace violence. The bill would require employers to have in place a comprehensive prevention program designed to protect healthcare workers, social service workers, and other personnel from workplace violence.
- Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act of 2023 (S. 567/H.R. 20): Introduced in February 2023 and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions in July, this bill “expands various labor protections related to employees’ rights to organize and collectively bargain in the workplace.”