The ballot question proposing nurse staffing ratios would strip us of our professional autonomy. It doesn’t consider the character of our units, the variety of staff needed or a nurse’s ability to make informed decisions.
We strive to staff according to the AWHONN (Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses) staffing guidelines specific to labor and delivery and all of maternal child health, and in dire situations we need all hands on deck.
This law would hinder our ability to navigate a crisis. If there is an emergency, nurses need the flexibility to jump in and teamwork is critical. A baby could be in distress, or a mother’s blood pressure could suddenly drop. In such times we need the flexibility to run to be there for each other and especially for the patient.
If we violate the ratios in favor of safety, our organization will be charged a huge fee.
Instead of focusing on the needs and acuity of our patients, we would need to be fixated on achieving an arbitrary staffing number dictated by law. Nurses will second-guess themselves when alarms sound; instead of jumping into action, and there may be delays.
This bill would take us back to a different era. Hospitals would likely need to close or reduce services. Members of the community would have to travel many miles to receive care.
Elective surgeries will frequently be canceled if the arbitrary number of nurses is not met at a particular moment in time. There will be delays accessing hospitals, hospice, and long-term care facilities.
We develop our nurses to become true leaders with autonomy and independent thinking, to do the right thing for the right reasons and to put patients first.
Everything we have enculturated, mentored and supported, and all the victories we’ve strived for over the last 20 years in nursing, would be lost.
Please don’t let this harmful measure pass: Vote NO to staff-patient limits.
Elizabeth Lydstone. RN, BSN, MS-HA,
Massachusetts Perinatal Team