MN Nurses Confirm Department of Health Report Findings
Minnesota Nurses Association

MN Nurses Confirm Department of Health Report Findings


Hospitals refuse to cooperate with MDH study

January 19, 2015

Rick Fuentes
(office) 651-414-2863
(cell) 612-741-0662

(St. Paul) - More nurses means better care. Nurses of the Minnesota Nurses Association confirm the conclusions by the Minnesota Department of Health. MDH spent one year and $250,000 studying nurse staffing and patient outcomes and found "strong evidence" that correlates patient mortality, failures to rescue, and patient falls with poor staffing levels.  

"Nurses fought for this study at the Capitol in 2013 because they knew that a rigorous, objective study of nurse staffing would show patients do better when enough nurses are on duty," said Linda Hamilton, president of the Minnesota Nurses Association. Hundreds of nurses came to the Capitol over the 2013 session to request legislators pass the Staffing Plan Disclosure Act, which Governor Mark Dayton signed. The law required the health department commit to a two-year study but also required hospitals to report their staffing plans and actual staffing to the state as well as on a public website. 

MDH also found "strong evidence" that other care process outcomes such as drug administration errors, missed nursing care, and a patient's length of stay are linked to lower nurse staffing levels.  Patients are more likely to get the wrong medication or medication too late as well as stay longer in the hospitals where nurse staffing is low.
"Frontline nurses are worried about their patients," Hamilton said.  "They have been telling their hospital managers and administrators that the quality of care isn't the same when nurses are taking care of too many patients at one time. If you want patients to get better, you can't cut corners on staffing."

Nurses are disappointed, however, because hospitals withheld information that the Minnesota legislature directed them to provide.  In response to the legislature's directive for a robust, Minnesota-focused analysis, hospitals agreed to provide MDH with data from a subset of hospitals.  Only one, however, bothered to even respond. 

"The hospitals rebuked nurses, patients, and legislators by refusing to supply vital information that could improve the quality of patient care and the very safety of patients." Hamilton said. "
Are they just unwilling to cooperate with a study they themselves agreed to with our lawmakers?  Republicans and Democrats alike. Either way, shame on them.'"

Other studies and government agencies have found the quality of care in Minnesota hospitals is declining. 
Minnesota's overall healthcare quality score fell 11 percent, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and Minnesota now ranks 15th on watchdog group Leapfrog's Hospital Quality Safety Score.  Nurses have also grown more concerned.  They filed more than 2000 Concern For Safe Staffing forms with MNA in 2014.  That figure surpasses 2011, 2012, and 2013.  CFSS forms are filed in addition to incident reports or adverse event reports that are filed with the state.

"Thanks to the Minnesota Department of Health, we know that patient safety and patient care is an issue in Minnesota.  If we're committed to quality care in Minnesota, we have to act," Hamilton said, "we can no longer say nurses don't play a part in a patient's recovery."


About MNA:

With more than 20,000 members in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin, MNA is the leading organization for registered nurses in the Midwest and is among the oldest and largest representatives of RNs for collective bargaining in the nation. Established in 1905, MNA is a multi-purpose organization that fosters high standards for nursing education and practice, and works to advance the profession through legislative activity. MNA is an affiliate of National Nurses United.

About NNU:

National Nurses United, with close to 185,000 members in every state, is the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in U.S. history.

NNU was founded in 2009, unifying three of the most active, progressive organizations in the U.S. - and the major voices of unionized nurses - in the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, United American Nurses, and Massachusetts Nurses Association.
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