Help Save Lives in Our Community & Pass the Patient Safety Act (SB 247)!

Pennsylvania is in a patient safety crisis: Unprecedented levels of short staffing in hospitals are putting patients at risk, leading to longer ER wait times, more falls, bedsores, injuries, infections, and medical errors, increased risks of patient heart attacks and respiratory failure, and preventable patient deaths. As the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania testified to the PA legislature last year: “Our research estimates that, if [the Patient Safety Act] passed, more than 1150 deaths would be prevented annually and hospitals would save $93 million annually from length of stay reductions alone.”

Our Community Deserves Better 

Nurses have been sounding the alarm for decades, and frontline caregivers are united around the solution: The Patient Safety Act, which would establish safe nurse-to-patient ratios in every unit and hospital across the Commonwealth. We must ensure that there are enough, qualified professionals at the bedside at any given moment to provide the best care to us and our loved ones. Safe Staffing has been proven to save lives, improve care, and keep highly skilled staff at the bedside for longer. 

The Solution: Pass the Patient Safety Act Now 

The Patient Safety Act (Senate Bill 247) passed in the State House last year with bipartisan support. Now, a handful of State Senators are standing in the way and blocking the bill from coming to the Senate floor for a vote. If the State Senate does not vote to pass the Patient Safety Act by the end of June, the bill will die and need to be reintroduced again in the State House next year. Pennsylvania patients and nurses deserve to at least have a vote on this critical law!

“For generations, nurses have always put  patients first, that is a big part of the reason nurses are the most trusted profession. Sadly, time and time again, we nurses have seen hospitals make decisions that  do not ensure patient safety. The first  necessary step to effectively providing safe and high-quality care  is with proven safe staffing levels.  That’s why I’m dedicated to helping pass the Patient Safety Act.”

Myra Taylor

RN, Allegheny General Hospital

Passing the Patient Safety Act Today Would...

  • Save the lives of 1 in 10 surgical patients in Pennsylvania • Significantly reduce hospital-acquired infections, heart  attacks, respiratory failure, patient falls, bedsores, injuries,  and medical errors 
  • Shorten ER wait times and patients’ lengths of stay, and  reduce re-admissions 
  • Save money and increase hospital revenue 
  • Fix the nursing shortage by addressing the root causes of  burnout and turnover

Patient Safety Act: Frequently Asked Questions

Where will the nurses come from to meet the new standards?

  • Passing the Patient Safety Act will bring more nurses back to the bedside, and keep them practicing in PA hospitals for longer. After California implemented safe staffing laws in 2004, thousands of nurses flocked to the state and the California Board of Nursing reported a 60% increase in applications from other states, an 18% increase in the number of applicants for the certifying exam, and a 4% increase in RNs overall.
  • There are over 80,000 registered nurses of working age and currently licensed to practice in Pennsylvania who are choosing not to practice in hospitals under current conditions. The nurse workforce crisis in PA is not a problem of supply – Only 76% of Registered Nurses in PA are currently employed as nurses, and 6% are unemployed. Rather, the nursing shortage we’re experiencing is a problem of retention because of unsafe working conditions. 
  • Unsafe staffing is the single biggest driver of nurse burnout and turnover. The General Assembly’s Joint State Government Commission on Pennsylvania’s Health Care Workforce Needs concluded in 2019 that as many as 30% to 50% of newly licensed Registered Nurses leave the bedside within their first 3 years. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s “Pulse of Pennsylvania’s Registered Nurse Workforce,” unsafe staffing is the greatest source of job dissatisfaction among nurses. 

How will hospitals afford to hire more staff to meet the new standards?

  • Safe staffing actually saves hospitals money. In Queensland, for example, studies showed that, “In addition to better quality of care and patient outcomes, the savings due to fewer readmissions and shorter lengths of stay in hospitals was about $70 million, more than twice the cost of the additional nurse staffing.”
  • As the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania testified to the PA legislature last year: “Our research estimates that, if [the Patient Safety Act] passed, more than 1150 deaths would be prevented annually and hospitals would save $93 million annually from length of stay reductions alone.”
  • The benefits of safe staffing (healthier patients, fewer errors and infections, shorter lengths of stay, fewer readmissions, and greater nurse retention) more than make up for the cost of hiring additional staff to meet new standards. 

Will my community hospital close, lose services, or turn patients away because of the new standards?

  • When California implemented safe staffing standards in 2004, not a single hospital or unit closed because of challenges related to the new standards. In fact, nurse recruitment, retention, patient outcomes, and hospital revenue all improved significantly. 
  • The Patient Safety Act includes a phase-in timeline for hospitals to ramp up recruitment before they would be penalized for failing to meet the new standards. Additionally, under the Act, hospitals would be required to create staffing plans – which would be reviewed annually by a committee that includes 50% frontline staff nurses – for both routine and crisis situations (like the COVID pandemic), as well as an emergency plan to adapt to an unexpected influx of patients. There is no reason that a PA hospital would not be able to meet the new standards. 

TAKE ACTION! Send a message to your State Senator to support the Patient Safety Act! 

Our Fight for Safe Staffing in Pennsylvania

Nurses are united in our support for the Patient Safety Act.

COVID didn’t create this problem, it exposed a crisis that was already there.

About Nurses of Pennsylvania

Nurses of Pennsylvania is an organization of, by and for nurses focused on improving the beside care nurses provide. PA nurses work in cities and small towns, at large hospitals, in nursing homes and more – tied together by their commitment to their patients, their families and their communities. United for quality care, Nurses of Pennsylvania is focused on leading the state to a healthcare system that puts patients first.

Breaking Point: Pennsylvania’s Patient Care Crisis

We surveyed 1,000 nurses who work in hospitals, schools, rehabilitation facilities, long-term care and more — from Scranton to Erie to Pittsburgh and Philadelphia — and the results show a clear crisis in patient care with nurses spending less time at the bedside, chronic understaffing, and high turnover.