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Michigan Nurses Demand Mandatory Staffing Ratios

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The Michigan Nurses Association is supporting legislation that would require minimum nurse to patient staffing ratios.  Nurses say the measure will save lives and help avoid costly mistakes.

The Safe Patient Care Act would require a one-to-one nurse to patient ratio in critical care and surgical units, one to three for non-trauma units and one to four in pediatrics.  Supporters say hospitals often purposely fail to meet adequate staffing levels to save money, instead imposing mandatory overtime on their nurses.  

Michigan Nurses Association Jeff Breslin says hospitals are operating as corporations that put profit over people.

“But they’re focusing very short term on the bottom line," Breslin says.  "There’s going to be a large savings on many different fronts that will more than make up for the difference in people that need to be hired.”

The Michigan bill is modeled on a California law that mandates nurse staffing levels.  Its sponsors say the measure has the support of nearly a third of the members of the Michigan House. 

Kevin Lavery is a general assignment reporter and occasional local host for Morning Edition and All Things considered.
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