NY hospitals must assign a nurse for every 2 critical care patients under new rule
New York hospitals will soon be required to assign at least one nurse for every two patients in critical care units, according to a new rule drafted by the state Health Department. The “Safe Staffing Act,” approved by the state legislature in 2021 during the coronavirus pandemic, is being implemented by Governor Kathy Hochul’s administration. New York nurses and health activists have long called for higher ratios of nurses to patients, which research has shown can reduce patient deaths and prevent work burnout and staff turnover.
The new rule, which is expected to be approved by the state Public Health and Health Planning Council on Thursday, is a compromise, limiting the state to setting higher staffing ratios only in critical care and intensive care units. Every hospital will be required to form a “staffing committee” with half the members being nurses and half being hospital administrators, to negotiate other staff-to-patient ratios in non-critical settings.
The imposition of a strict, higher staffing ratio in critical care units is not without its critics, with some administrators noting that many hospitals still suffer from a shortage of in-house nurses and have contracts with firms that provide traveling nurses to fill gaps suggesting that a mandated staffing ratio could be impractical and counterproductive.
However, the new staffing-to-critical-patient ratio is one piece in Governor Hochul’s $20 billion, multi-year program to bolster New York’s healthcare industry walloped by the Covid-19 pandemic. The effort includes a medical care and mental hygiene worker bonus programme to help recruit and retain staff and increase the healthcare workforce by 20% over the next five years, and other initiatives such as a loan repayment program.
Continue reading here for FAQs.
What is the Safe Staffing Act?
The Safe Staffing Act is a law approved by the New York state legislature in 2021 amid the Covid-19 pandemic. It requires New York hospitals to assign at least one nurse for every two patients in critical care units and form a staffing committee to determine staff-to-patient ratios in non-critical settings.
What are the benefits of higher nurse-to-patient ratios?
Research has shown that higher ratios of nurses to patients can reduce patient deaths and prevent work burnout and staff turnover.
What is Governor Hochul’s healthcare initiative?
Governor Kathy Hochul’s $20 billion, multi-year healthcare initiative aims to bolster New York’s healthcare industry, which was severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The initiative includes a medical care and mental hygiene worker bonus programme to recruit and retain staff, and other initiatives such as a loan repayment program.
Are there any criticisms of the higher staffing ratios in critical care units?
Some critics have noted that many hospitals still suffer from a shortage of in-house nurses and have contracts with firms that provide traveling nurses, making a mandated staffing ratio impractical and counterproductive.
Under a new regulation, New York hospitals are required to allocate one nurse for every two critically ill patients.
New York State’s Health Department has established a new rule that requires hospitals to assign a minimum of one registered nurse for every two critical care patients. The regulation is one aspect of the “Safe Staffing Act,” approved by the legislature in 2021 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The law is a compromise, as it only sets higher staffing ratios for critical and intensive care units, as opposed to minimum staffing levels across all units, like California. Hospitals in New York are mandated to form a “staffing committee” made up of both hospital administrators and nurses to negotiate non-critical staff-to-patient ratios.
For decades, New York nurses and health activists have urged for higher ratios of nurses to patients, as research has shown that it curbs patient deaths and staffing burnout. The imposition of the higher staffing ratio in critical care units is part of Governor Kathy Hochul’s $20 billion, multi-year program to boost the state’s healthcare industry, hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Greater New York Hospital Association has not objected to the new staffing edict, while unions, including the state Nurses’ Association and SEIU Local 1199, have supported the law. However, not everyone is pleased with the mandate, as some hospital administrators note that many hospitals are experiencing a shortage of in-house nurses and have contracts with traveling nurses to fill the gaps, making it impractical and counterproductive to have a mandated staffing ratio.