Current staffing regulations, which offer coverage only in ICU or critical care units, have not been updated since 1987. Technology, reduced hospital stays, and patients have undergone drastic changes, but our regulations have remained stagnant, unchanged, and unenforced. While our state has chosen to do little to improve staffing levels, HPAE local unions have fought for and won staffing language in contracts, whether in the form of nurse to patient staffing ratios or limits on floating and flexing.
We have been advocating for a state law requiring safe nurse staffing levels in all New Jersey hospitals and ambulatory care centers. That is why we have joined with other healthcare unions and community activists in the Coalition for Patient Rights and Safe Staffing (CPRSS) in a campaign to win the passage of S1183/A647, a bill which mandates safe staffing ratios and acuity systems.
Research studies show that safe staffing is linked to better patient outcomes and improved working conditions. A “Summary of Nurse Staffing Studies” that has been compiled by HPAE clearly indicates that safe staffing improves patient care, facilitates the retention of qualified, experienced nurses, and leads to a reduction in workplace injuries.