In a striking instance of direct democracy, voters in Massachusetts this November will decide whether to impose nurse staffing ratios on the state’s hospitals. Question 1 asks for voter approval of a rule that no one nurse will be responsible for more than four pediatric patients (or more than five psychiatric patients) at any time.
Opponents of the proposed rule are making a well-funded effort to produce a “no” vote. The “Coalition to Protect Patient Safety” has spent roughly $10 million, much of it on broadcast ads suggesting that the state’s efforts to force a “one size fits all” solution will harm patients and force some facilities to close. This “Coalition” is financed largely by the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association.
If the initiative passes, hospitals will face a penalty of up to $25,000 for each violation.
The Thing to Know:
In a recent poll, 52% of voters said they favor limiting the number of patients that can be a given nurse’s responsibility; 33% are opposed. That leaves 15% undecided.