ONA Passes Improvements to Oregon’s Nurse Staffing Law
Thanks to nurses’ support, ONA successfully passed a new hospital nurse staffing law (Senate Bill 469) during the 2015 legislative session. The new law is based on the work of ONA’s staffing law review group and follows recommendations for changes that ONA’s House of Delegates unanimously approved in 2014.
The new staffing law ensures that nurse staffing committees have the final say in hospital’s staffing plans, increases state-run staffing investigations and audits, enhances transparency, establishes reasonable limits on mandatory overtime, and creates a mediation process for staffing committees to resolve impasses, among other important changes.
ONA has provided a means by which staff nurses could report when nurse staffing on their unit/shift is insufficient and/or unsafe since 1997. The report is part of the ethical obligation of nurses to report when provision of "safe patient care” is, at the least, not supported or at the most, impossible.
When a nurse on a shift is faced with staffing which is imminently or potentially unsafe according to the various causes of unsafe staffing, it is intended that the nurse a) notify someone in the chain of command, b) ask for additional staff, and c) ask for a response in a reasonable period of time, e.g., minutes, hours. The diagnostic reasoning based on professional practice is conducted as to the cause. Following this, the nurse assumes the patient care load as assigned, asking for help as he/she needs. At the end of the shift, or within 48 hours, the nurse completes the form, files it with the nurse manager, PNCC, and ONA. The data on the SRDF forms is converted to statistics, and reports are generated.