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Lifesaving Bills Filed in Florida Legislature to Guarantee Patient Safety Improvements

Thursday, March 11, 2010 General News J E 4
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla., March 10 National Nurses Organizing Committee-Florida and National Nurses United today announce that the Florida Hospital Patient Protection Act of 2010 has been filed in the state legislature by authors Rep. Oscar Braynon and Sen. Tony Hill and will be known as HB 1283 and S 2316.

The bill will improve conditions and outcomes for patients in hospitals, while also lessening Florida's nursing shortage by drawing RNs to work in safe and therapeutic conditions. The Florida Hospital Patient Protection Act will:

Research has shown that a primary cause of medical errors and sentinel events in hospitals around the country is nurse under-staffing, when RNs are assigned more than the maximum safe number of patients to care for. This bill would end that problem and give registered nurses the legal protections they need to stand up to any instances of patient endangerment they witness. These protections would save lives, and draw RNs back into the profession.

"When patients are denied access to a medically-appropriate level of nursing care, their outcomes suffer. It's that simple, and it is totally preventable. Many hospitals under-staff their units, denying access to RNs, and undermining patient safety in the name of hospital profits. The Florida Patient Protection Act will extent to my patients the level of care they deserve," said Barbra Rivera, an RN from St. Petersburg.

"Nurses are on the front line of healthcare and with reform on the horizon it is important for us to protect them and the patients they serve," said Rep. Oscar Braynon. "This bill does just that and will put Florida at the forefront of quality patient care." "Finally with this bill Florida RNs will be able to do what they were trained to do, put patient safety first and advocate for patients without fear of retaliation," added Sen. Tony Hill.

The primary sponsors of the bills are the nurses of NNOC-Florida, a professional association and union for RNs. NNOC-Florida is the state chapter of the National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC) and is affiliated with National Nurses United, the new national union of RNs, founded in December 2009 and composed of 150,000 nurses from every state in the country. They are joined in supporting the bill by colleagues from SEIU Healthcare Florida and SEIU 1991, a professional association and union for RNs and healthcare workers.

-- Guarantee a safe ratio of RNs to patients on every unit in every hospital in Florida. Research has identified unsafe nurse staffing as a key factor for sentinel events in units throughout hospitals. -- Establish whistle-blower protections for RNs who expose unsafe conditions. -- Assure RNs the legal guarantee to serve as patient advocates.

SOURCE National Nurses Organizing Committee-Florida/National Nurses United
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