New bill would limit nurse-patient ratios, reduce workload

Democratic State Senator Michael Skindell (D- Lakewood) reintroduced the Ohio Patient Protection Act, that would set minimum requirements on patient-nurse ratios.

Some requirements include a one-to-one patient ratio (one nurse for every patient) in situations such as:

  • Patients in an operating room
  • Patients in a trauma or critical care unit
  • Unstable newborns
  • Patients requiring resuscitation

Other scenarios would have nurses assigned to multiple patients:

  • One-nurse to three patients for pediatric units and pregnant patients who are not in active labor
  • One-to-five nurse-patient ratio for infants in nurseries

The bill would require a hospital-wide nursing care committee to post public patient-nurse ratios for units not listed in the bill.

In addition, the bill would:

  • Require nurses to be competent to work in the units they’re assigned to
  • Prohibit mandatory overtime to meet the ratio requirements
  • Prohibit the use of cameras or monitors as substitutes for the actual nurse to fulfill the requirements

Some nurses’ unions have endorsed the legislation including UAW Local 2213 Professional Registered Nurses in Toledo and the National Nurses Union.

The bill is modeled after a California law that, according to National Nurses United, “has saved patient lives, improved the quality of care in multiple other ways, and reduced nurse burnout, keeping the most experienced RNs at the patient bedside.

"As patient acuity increases, so does the pressure for faster turnaround times on patient loads. These changes on increasing productivity and throughput in our industry have left little room for patients and their specific needs”, says Susan Pratt, RN, President of UAW Local 2213. “Our patient is not a product or a part, they are a human being with all complexities that make us unique."

Ohio does not currently set requirements for patient-nurse ratios

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