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Hundreds of Texas Registered Nurses March on Capitol Thursday to Demand Lifesaving Patient Safety Improvements
Date:11/12/2008

Nurses Cheer Introduction of 'Texas Hospital Patient Protection Act of

2009' to Combat Unsafe Patient Care and Unsafe Nursing Assignments

AUSTIN, Texas, Nov. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Hundreds of registered nurses from nearly every city in Texas will march to and rally at the state Capitol this Thursday in support of the "Texas Hospital Patient Protection Act of 2009," which will save the lives of untold numbers of Texans by cracking down on unsafe practices in today's hospitals. The nurses will be addressed by legislators, 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 nurses more patients than they can safely care for, and by providing nurses with strong patient advocacy and whistle-blower protections.

WHAT: 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.

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

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

The Texas Hospital Patient Protection Act would:

-- Set minimum RN-to-patient staffing ratios

-- Assure RNs the legal guarantee to serve as patient advocates

-- Establish real whistle-blower protections for RNs who expose unsafe

conditions

"As RNs, we are out here because we want to advocate for our patients. In order to truly care for the most vulnerable among us, in our hospitals, we need to know that every patient is guaranteed access to an RN when they need it, 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 need to do is make sure nurses in every state can provide patients the care they deserve," said Malinda Markowitz, RN, a co-president of the National Nurses Organizing Committee.

Ratios:

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

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

This approach has been shown to save lives. One study (The American Journal of Public Health, August 2005) found that cutting ratios to one RN per 4 patients could save 72,000 lives nationally, while another found that (Journal of the American Medical Association, October 22, 2002) up to 22,000 American lives are lost each year due to unsafe ratios. Other studies have linked everything from the rise of staph infections to the spread of pneumonia to unsafe ratios for direct care nurses.

For more information on ratios, journalists can view the following brochure, "The Ratios Solution," at http://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 in practice can mean standing up to doctors, hospital executives, insurance representatives, or others. This ethical obligation and practice ensures that all care is provided in the exclusive interests of patients, and not based on budgetary considerations.

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

About NNOC

The National Nurses Organizing Committee, founded by the California Nurses Association in 2005, today represents 80,000 RNs in 50 states, making it the largest and fastest-growing association of direct-care RNs in the nation. Learn more at http://www.calnurses.org


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SOURCE National Nurses Organizing Committee
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