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Hundreds of Texas Registered Nurses March on Capitol Thursday to Demand Lifesaving Patient Safety Improvements

Thursday, November 13, 2008 General News J E 4
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AUSTIN, Texas, Nov. 12 Hundreds of registered nurses fromnearly every city in Texas will march to and rally at the state Capitol thisThursday in support of the "Texas Hospital Patient Protection Act of 2009,"which will save the lives of untold numbers of Texans by cracking down onunsafe practices in today's hospitals. The nurses will be addressed bylegislators, healthcare experts, and activists.

The Act would significantly improve patient care by mandating safe nurse-to-patient ratios, which will end the dangerous practice of assigning nursesmore patients than they can safely care for, and by providing nurses withstrong patient advocacy and whistle-blower protections.

The nurses are members of Texas' RN union, National Nurses OrganizingCommittee-Texas, part of the national movement for direct-care RNs, composedof more than 80,000 RNs in all 50 states across the country. NNOC-Texasrecently won an election at Cypress-Fairbanks Medical Center in Houston, thefirst private-sector hospital to be unionized in the state.

The Texas Hospital Patient Protection Act of 2009 gives nurses the legalprotections and support to provide patients with the care they deserve. Asthe patient population grows sicker, and their treatments grow morecomplicated, safety protections for hospital patients becomes more urgent.

"As RNs, we are out here because we want to advocate for our patients. Inorder to truly care for the most vulnerable among us, in our hospitals, weneed to know that every patient is guaranteed access to an RN when they needit, and that RN has the protections she needs to do her job," said Olga Perez,a nurse from San Antonio.

"It's a new day in Texas and America, and one of the first things we needto do is make sure nurses in every state can provide patients the care theydeserve," said Malinda Markowitz, RN, a co-president of the National NursesOrganizing Committee.

Ratios:

The portion of the law establishing minimum, safe RN-to-patient ratios ismodeled on landmark laws in California and Australia which are directlyimproving patient care in those areas, and attracting RNs from around theworld to practice their profession in a safe atmosphere.

The Texas RN ratios would require minimum ratios by unit -- a floor forpatient safety, with increased staffing when needed based on the severity ofpatient illness. Research has shown the need for such an approach.

This approach has been shown to save lives. One study (The AmericanJournal of Public Health, August 2005) found that cutting ratios to one RN per4 patients could save 72,000 lives nationally, while another found that(Journal of the American Medical Association, October 22, 2002) up to 22,000American lives are lost each year due to unsafe ratios. Other studies havelinked everything from the rise of staph infections to the spread of pneumoniato unsafe ratios for direct care nurses.

For more information on ratios, journalists can view the followingbrochure, "The Ratios Solution," athttp://www.calnurses.org/assets/pdf/ratios/ratios_booklet.pdf

Patient Advocacy and Whistle-blower Protections:

Nurses have an ethical obligation to serve as patient advocates, which inpractice can mean standing up to doctors, hospital executives, insurancerepresentatives, or others. This ethical obligation and practice ensures thatall care is provided in the exclusive interests of patients, and not based onbudgetary considerations.

Texas law does not currently guarantee this obligation for RNs, nor doesit provide strong whistle-blower protections for RNs who do stand up to unsafecare for their patients. The Safe Harbor law severely burdens and interfereswith RN independent professional practice responsibility, endangering Texaspatients. The Texas Patient Protection Act would remedy this.

About NNOC

The National Nurses Organizing Committee, founded by the California NursesAssociation in 2005, today represents 80,000 RNs in 50 states, making it thelargest and fastest-growing association of direct-care RNs in the nation.Learn more at http://www.calnurses.orgWHAT: Texas RNs Rally for Patient Safety WHERE: South Steps of Texas State Capitol-will march up Congress WHEN: Thursday, November 13th 10:45 a.m.

SOURCE National Nurses Organizing Committee
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