Press Release: UNAC/UHCP Reaffirms Commitment to Safe Staffing

April 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                       
April 27, 2015 

UNAC/UHCP Reaffirms Commitment to Safe Staffing

LOS ANGELES-The United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC/UHCP) vehemently disagrees with recent attacks on California safe staffing laws, especially claims that staffing ratios have not improved patient care. In fact, safe staffing has been shown not just to improve care, but to save lives.

“We believe in an evidence-based approach to health care. The evidence clearly shows that California’s nurse staffing ratios improve care and reduce deaths,” said Ken Deitz, RN, UNAC/UHCP President. “We stand with nurses everywhere fighting to safely care for their patients with the help of nurse-to-patient ratios. We strongly disagree with the suggestion that staffing ratios are not effective and we will continue to push for full compliance with the law in California hospitals and for expansion of the law across the country.”

Considerable research shows that staffing ratios improve outcomes for both patients and their nurses, including the following studies.

  • A landmark study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania by Linda H. Aiken, Ph.D., and a team of researchers, found lower staffing ratios correlated with lower mortality. In fact, had Pennsylvania and New Jersey followed California staffing ratio laws[i], a staggering 13.9% of surgical deaths would have been prevented in New Jersey and 10.6% prevented in Pennsylvania.
  • Every one additional patient added to a hospital staff nurse’s workload is associated with a seven percent increase in hospital mortality[ii].
  • A New England Journal of Medicine study found that the risk of death increased two percent each time a patient was exposed to shifts with below target RN staffing[iii].
  • It’s not just patients who are seriously harmed. Working long hours and with inadequate staffing increases the risk of nurse musculoskeletal injuries, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and depression[iv].

“An attack on nurse staffing laws is an attack on patients,” said UNAC/UHCP Executive Vice President Denise Duncan. “UNAC/UHCP fought alongside other nurse and patient advocacy organizations to pass the staffing ratio law here in California. We know they save lives. We oppose any attempt to weaken the law or diminish its impact on patient care in our state.”


UNAC/UHCP represents 25,000 registered nurses and other health care professionals, including optometrists; pharmacists; physical, occupational and speech therapists; nurse midwives; social workers; clinical lab scientists; physician assistants and nurse practitioners. UNAC/UHCP is affiliated with the National Union of hospital and Health Care Employees and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO.


[i] Linda Aiken, et al., “Implications of the California Nurse Staffing Mandate for Other States,” Health Services Research, August 2010, http://www.nursing.upenn.edu/chopr/Documents/Aiken.2010.CaliforniaStaffingRatios.pdf

[ii] Linda Aiken, et al., “Supplemental Nurse Staffing in Hospitals and Quality of Care,” Journal of Nursing Administration, July/August 2007. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2978921/.

[iii] Jack Needleman, et al. “Nurse Staffing and Inpatient Hospital Mortality,” New England Journal of Medicine, March 17, 2011, http://www.virginianurses.com/Main-Menu-Category/Practice/Workplace-Advocacy-Guide/nurse-staffing-NEJM1-2011.pdf.

[iv] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Requiring Days Away From Work, 2012,” 2013. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/osh2.pdf.