Safe Staffing Equals Safe Patients

October 2015

UNAC/UHCP’s union-wide campaign to ensure safe staffing has already netted two notable victories after ongoing campaigns at specific facilities ramped up in the past two months. Kaiser Woodland Hills Registered Nurses Association will see 50 new and backfilled full time, part time and per diem positions as well as a new grad program. Meanwhile Kaiser South Bay has secured over 80 new registered nurse positions.

At UNAC/UHCP, we continue to fight for safe staffing levels for nurses and patients. Although staffing ratio laws are in effect in California, hospitals continue to be lax about the enforcement and hospital executives continue to lobby to defeat the laws. Research shows that staffing ratio laws are necessary in health care settings and it is important that we continue to do our part in making sure staffing ratios are enforced in our workplaces.

There is a direct connection between California staffing ratios and reductions in patient deaths and complications. There are fewer deaths when ratios are in force. Staffing patterns are linked to patient mortality and preventable complications. In spite of this, hospitals continue to insist that there is no need for government mandated nursing workloads.

The fact of the matter is that nurse-to-patient staffing ratios keep patients safe and save hospitals money. Safe RN ratios have produced cost savings for hospitals in reduced spending on temporary RNs and overtime costs, lower RN turnover, improved patient outcomes, and shorter patient lengths of stay.

Nurse staff ratios are also significantly associated with hospital readmissions. Reducing and preventing unnecessary hospital readmissions should be a high priority for hospitals, yet nurses continue to be put into situations where they care for more patients than is safe.

A UC Davis study found that job-related injuries and illnesses dropped by one-third following the mandated staffing ratios in California. With improved staffing, there are fewer injuries in the workplace. Injuries spiral into a cycle of absenteeism, workers’ compensation cases, and further worker injury and illness. There is no denying that staffing ratios have had a positive impact on patient outcomes as well as nurse recruitment and retention in California hospitals. Ratio enforcement results in safer workplaces.

If your workplace violates safe staffing ratio laws, fill out a staffing objection form and report the staffing objection to your charge and director and make sure your UNAC/UHCP representative also receives a copy. By doing so, you will reduce risk of injury, lower the rate of readmissions, and save even more lives. Together, we can address the multitude of issues that exist around inadequate staffing at all our affiliates.

Ask a local affiliate officer about what you can do to get involved with safe staffing ratio preservation! If a staffing ratio campaign is present in your workplace, make sure you wear a button. For more information, or to join the campaign, contact safestaffing@unacuhcp.org