Merkley Introduces Legislation to Make Hospitals Safer for Nurses and Patients

Washington, D.C. – Today, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley introduced legislation to make hospitals safer for nurses and patients. The Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act of 2015 requires hospitals participating in Medicare to implement thorough staffing plans for nursing services and establishes whistleblower protections for patients and employees.

“As the husband of a nurse, I know firsthand the many challenges nurses face and how critical their care is to patients,” said Merkley. “Safe staffing enhances patient care, reduces medical errors, and increases nurse retention.”

Companion legislation was also introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives today by Reps. David Joyce (R-OH) and Lois Capps (D-CA).

The U.S. is projected to experience a shortage of registered nurses that is expected to increase as baby boomers age and the need for health care grows.  This legislation will help improve retention of registered nurses and ensure that patients receive quality care at hospitals.

To date, seven states, including Oregon, have passed similar legislation to ensure safe staffing by utilizing a hospital-wide safe staffing committee.

Today’s legislation was endorsed by the American Nurses Association and the American Federation of Teachers.