Nurses Renew Bipartisan Push for Safe Limits on Patient Assignments, Forced Overtime

Bills in MI House, Senate aim to increase hospital accountability and transparency

Left to right – State Reps. Aaron Miller of Sturgis, Jon Hoadley of Kalamazoo and Sara Cambensy of Marquette hand in their bills in the bipartisan Safe Patient Care Act package at the Capitol in Lansing.

LANSING – Michigan Nurses Association members today applauded the reintroduction of the Safe Patient Care Act, a bipartisan plan to make Michigan hospitals safer by setting limits on nurses’ patient assignments, curbing forced overtime for registered nurses, and requiring hospitals to release staffing information.

“Too often, nurses have to juggle too many patients or work past the point of exhaustion, which means we can’t give every person the skilled care they need and deserve,” said Jamie Brown, RN, president of the Michigan Nurses Association. “Many people don’t realize there is no law about the number of patients nurses can be assigned or the hours we can be forced to work. Nurses are pleased to see so much bipartisan momentum for the urgently needed solutions in the Safe Patient Care Act.”

Years of reliable research* have established the link between understaffed nursing shifts and increased patient infections, falls, medication errors and even preventable deaths.

Lawmakers from around the state served as primary sponsors of the bipartisan package, which has dozens of cosponsors from both sides of the aisle and across the state. The bills:

  • Require hospitals to follow evidence-based limits on patient assignments so nurses have enough time to spend with each patient; for example, the maximum ratio on a medical-surgical floor would be four patients per RN. [Sponsored by Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) in the House and Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) in the Senate.]
  • Prohibit excessive forced overtime for RNs and require they get eight hours off after a 12-hour shift so they can rest. [Sponsored by Rep. Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette) in the House and Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) in the Senate.]
  • Require hospitals to release their actual RN-to-patient ratios so consumers can make informed choices [Sponsored by Rep. Aaron Miller (R-Sturgis) in the House and Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) in the Senate.]

Here is what the sponsoring legislators have to say:
Rep. Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette): “Far too many nurses are being forced to work excessive hours, which puts both them and their patients at risk. Growing up, I felt the impact in my own family as I watched my mother have to take on unexpected shifts and long hours. No one can expect nurses to keep patients safe and well-cared for when they themselves are exhausted or sleep-deprived. I’m proud to sponsor this bipartisan solution that will make hospitals safer and help nurses do the best job possible.”

Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit): “Just as there are limits on working hours for truck drivers and air traffic controllers, there should be limits on how many hours nurses can be forced to work.  Nurses need reasonable shifts and a chance to rest between them. My bill helps ensure that everyone in the hospital can get care from a well-rested nurse.”

Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo): “Many nurses are routinely stretched too thin on the job, and that keeps them from providing the best care possible to every patient. We need the Safe Patient Care Act to ensure that no matter what hospital you go to, your nurse can provide the proper attention you need. This is a great bipartisan movement toward protecting patients all across the state.”

Rep. Aaron Miller (R-Sturgis): “If hospitals have proper nursing staff on duty, they should have no problem sharing that basic data. It’s just plain wrong that people can’t get important information about the nursing care at their local hospital. This legislation ensures we all have the facts about how many patients our nurses are being assigned, which directly affects the quality of our care. Transparency never leads to bad things and this is public health we’re talking about.”

Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan): “We have safety regulations regarding personnel on the job and hours worked in many businesses in the state, especially in ones where public safety is involved like truck drivers and pilots. My own personal experiences at hospitals have shown me how difficult it is for patients and their caregivers because of maintaining bare-minimum staffing levels and requiring these professionals to work such exhausting schedules in non-emergency situations. These concerns go far beyond one party or place – this affects all of us.”

Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield): “Michigan residents expect and deserve more transparency across the board, including when it comes to their health care. Patients and their families have the right to this basic information, and my legislation simply makes sure they have access to it.”
The Michigan Nurses Association is the largest and most effective labor and professional association for registered nurses in the state.
*See for compiled research.


Contact: Dawn Kettinger; 517-721-9688 or Amelia Dornbush; 517-896-7478

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