Senator Maria Collett

Harrisburg, Pa.   August 30, 2021 − Today, Senator Maria Collett (D-12 Montgomery/Bucks) announced the reintroduction of the Patient Safety Act to set safe nurse-to-patient limits in Pennsylvania hospitals.

SB 240 will set appropriate staffing ratios based on the type of environment in which nurses are practicing. For example, the bill will limit one nurse to four patients in a pre-surgical unit and one nurse to two patients in a neo-natal intensive care unit. Evidence shows that establishing safe nurse-to-patient ratios improves patient safety and reduces costs to hospitals as malpractice claims fall.

“At its core, this legislation helps ensure better patient outcomes, better nurse retention, and better bottom lines for hospitals by setting safe, unit specific staffing minimums,” said Senator Collett, a registered nurse who worked in a hospital trauma unit and in long-term care. “Nurses have been at the frontlines of the COVID crisis for well over a year now. They’ve had our backs, and now it’s time for us to have theirs.”

Studies show short staffing is the single biggest driver of nurse burnout and turnover. In the PA Department of Health’s most recent licensure survey, the highest factor of “job dissatisfaction” was staffing (37% unsatisfied), and the most common reason young nurses reported for planning to leave the profession was stress and burnout. Senator Collett added: “COVID has shown us just what we are up against when staff are burnt out and reinforcements are scarce. I urge my colleagues in the legislature to support quality patient care, support Pennsylvania nurses and pass the Patient Safety Act.”

The Patient Safety Act (SB 240) was introduced as SB 450 in the previous session with a bipartisan group of 24 co-sponsors in the Senate. SB 240 already has 20 co-sponsors.