New analysis warns of severe negative impacts on patient care and
access if "Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act" is enacted
2023, Saint Paul, Minn.– According to an analysis by the Minnesota
Hospital Association (MHA), a proposal in the legislature to implement nurse
staffing ratios would have drastic, negative impacts on patient care, access,
and cost, reducing availability of hospital care across the state. The proposed
bill, SF 1561/HF 1700, aims to establish staffing committees with the power to
set nurse staffing ratios. If a rigid registered nurse (RN) to patient ratio is
implemented without flexibility to care for patients, MHA estimates it would
reduce hospital care capacity by 15% and threaten care for 70,000 patients in
Minnesota. The analysis also suggests that the proposed mandates would worsen
the health care workforce crisis.
implemented, these harmful mandates will reduce our ability to provide care,
leading to potential unit closures, increased costs, longer wait times for
patients, and the loss of vital health care services that communities rely
on," warned Dr. Rahul Koranne, president and CEO of the MHA. "It is
crucial that we maintain access to high-quality health care services and ensure
that hospitals and health systems have the resources they need to continue
caring for Minnesotans.”
Currently, there are
40,000 open positions in the health care sector with over 5,000 open RN
positions in the state. Mandating a fixed RN to patient ratio during these
unprecedented shortages will inevitably lead to reduction in hospital services
and a loss of needed hospital care for more than 70,000 patients
If a hospital cannot
meet the mandated RN to patient ratio, it will be forced to close units, hire
costly traveling nurses, limit admissions, and be unable to fulfill its mission
of acting as the ultimate 24x7 safety net for the communities it serves.
Relying on nurse staffing agencies in hospitals results in increased health
care costs for patients, employers, and communities. Hospitals and health
systems work hard day and night to provide access to emergency, surgical, and
medical services to all patients and having a mandate that affects even one
patient negatively is unconscionable.
or mandated staffing ratios also ignore important factors such as patient
acuity, nurse experience, or the valuable care provided by other members of the
care team, including licensed practical nurses (LPNs), nurses’ aides,
respiratory therapists, physical therapists, pharmacists, and physicians.
Without the flexibility to make staffing adjustments to more accurately meet
the needs of actual patients being treated in real-time, hospitals will be
forced to close units to new patients and these closures will directly affect
the non-RN professionals on the care team.
hospitals and health systems continue to grapple with the ongoing challenges of
discharge backlogs, unprecedented workforce shortages and very difficult
finances, it is critical to understand the potential impacts before
implementing any changes that could have far-reaching consequences. Instead of
creating barriers to patient care, there are productive investments the
legislature can make in patient care and the health care workforce:
investments are needed in the health care workforce through existing and new
retention, recruitment, and development strategies. There are still over 5,000
open nursing positions in Minnesota and these efforts, not staffing ratios,
will help fill them.
of the loan forgiveness program, including the $5 million suggested for nurses
by the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA). MHA would also like to include other
health care professionals who are critically important care team members.
additional mental health funding potentially with a grant program targeting the
mental health needs of health care providers.
Hospitals and health systems in Minnesota care for their patients
24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and SF 1561/HF 1700
threatens this core patient service mission. The staffing provisions within the
bill are untenable for hospitals and health systems and will inevitably hurt
our communities by limiting care for patients.
Hospital Association (MHA) represents Minnesota’s hospitals and health systems,
which employ more than 127,000 people, provide high-quality care for patients,
and meet the needs of communities. Since 1917, MHA has worked to provide
Minnesota’s hospitals and health systems with the resources, best practices,
and guidance to provide an exceptional patient experience and high-quality,
affordable care that extends beyond the hospital’s walls.