HARRISBURG, March 7 – State Rep. Phyllis Mundy and state Sen. Daylin Leach today introduced bills in their respective chambers that would set a minimum number of registered nurses to patients at Pennsylvania hospitals.

The ratio would vary depending on the nature of the care. For example, there would be one registered nurse for every two neo-natal patients, and one registered nurse for every four patients in a pre-surgical unit under their legislation.

“Studies show that patients in hospitals with higher registered nurse staffing levels are less likely to get an infection during their care, and as a result, health care costs can be reduced by as much as 30 percent,” said Mundy, D-Luzerne.

“There is compelling statistical evidence that patient safety is improved dramatically and the costs to hospitals are reduced as malpractice claims fall and unnecessary, uncompensated care is avoided,” said Leach, D-Delaware/Montgomery. “Hospitals should make this investment in patient care that will pay dividends in overall savings.”

The Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP) is a strong supporter of H.B. 923 and S.B. 637. The union, which represents about 5,000 staff nurses and health care professionals, have sought to have this legislation enacted into law for many years.

“Nurses and patients need this protection,” said Patricia Eakin, an emergency room nurse and PASNAP president. “If we don’t have adequate time to do our work – assessing patients for change in condition, administering medications properly, ensuring that the patient is out of bed and walking so they don’t develop pneumonia or life-threatening blood clots – patients can die.”

PASNAP and the lawmakers noted that California, which has a safe RN-to-patient ratio law, has had an increase in the number of registered nurses while turnover decreased at hospitals in the state.