Safe Patient Care Act aims to improve hospital safety - WNEM TV 5

Safe Patient Care Act aims to improve hospital safety

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Staffing levels at hospitals, particularly among nurses, has become a growing issue throughout the state.

Some employees have even gone on strike in the Upper Peninsula last month over the concerns.

On Wednesday, state lawmakers heard testimony on a package of bills known as the Safe Patient Care Act. It is aimed at limiting a nurse's hours and the number of patients they care for.

"Nurses are natural patient care advocates," said John Armelagos, registered nurse.

Armelagos said he loves his job and taking care of people. That's why he is backing the series of bills.

He said the new bills would make common sense changes to the health care industry.

"There's no legislation that prohibits a nurse from working for example, 24 hours a day," Armelagos said.

Dozens of nurses from across the state went to Lansing on Wednesday to discuss the bills.

Armelagos said they also want to see more transparency in hospitals, especially regarding nurse to patient ratio.

"Have hospitals publicly disclose their staffing ratios every unit," Armelagos said.

Nurses union members said the bills are not just for nurses. They said the bills will help protect the public.

"There's been significant research over 25 years shows when there's not enough nurses on each floor on each shift there is an increase of mortality and an increase of poor outcomes," Armelagos said.

The Michigan Health and Hospital Association currently opposes the House bills. They cite in part:

The one-size-fits-all approach in these bills fails to recognize the complexity of patient care and the diversity of healthcare environments.  There are times when unforeseen circumstances can force healthcare providers to require staff to work outside of their normal schedules. When all other staffing alternatives have been exhausted and care must be delivered to patients, 
the ability to require staff to remain in active roles is critical to patient safety.

Armelagos said while the bills are still under review, he believes it has bi-partisan support.

"We're going to keep fighting. We will be here fighting every day until this legislation is passed," Armelagos said.

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