Written By: Veronica Boisvert
Now that the polls have closed, the Bay State elected to reject legislation proposed in the Patient Safety Act to mandate nurse to patient ratios. Despite vigorous support of the proposed bill as surveyed and reported as recent as September, the result was a resounding no. Understandably, from one perspective the outcome may appear as a defeat, but, the movement left a powerful message that still reverberates throughout Massachusetts, and that is patient safety is a legitimate concern. Whatever the motivation was to vote no: a daunting implementation plan, fear of shutdowns, increased patient wait times, overall nursing talent shortage, or another point of view, the movement for improved safety demands attention. A complete flip in the polls despite previous rankings can mean many things but it also means the people became informed. More than ever, the topic about patient safety and the dangers of caregiver burnout is the focal point of conversations.
Regardless of Tuesday night’s result, this issue is not going away. Nurse and caregiver burnout are real. Nursing employment is expected to grow faster than all other occupations through 2026. However, the booming profession is outpacing the available workforce. The nursing shortage continues to grow throughout the nation, including Massachusetts. People are living longer lives, the population is aging, a significant percentage of the nursing workforce is nearing retirement, and nurse faculty is steadily declining. The impact from the shortage of nurses will cause burnout earlier and faster, expanding the gap even further. All these factors lead to a resounding theme; you guessed it, patient safety is at risk.
The truth of the matter is all healthcare delivery systems need to find better solutions to navigate around the impact from staffing shortages. There is a war on talent and the nursing shortage is only part of the problem. The challenge is complex and without the proper strategy the issue will only worsen. Don’t let the result of Tuesday’s outcome delay action on an issue that is only going to continue to expand and resurface. Partner with an organization that understands the local complexities and rethink your talent acquisition strategy.
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