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Minnesota Governor Signs Staffing Bill

Publish Date: 6/12/2013

House Bill 588, a nurse staffing bill, has been signed by Governor Mark Dayton and will go into effect on August 1, 2013.

The new law will require Minnesota hospitals to develop a core staffing plan for each patient care unit and submit it to the Minnesota Hospital Association by January 1, 2014. The staffing plan must include the full-time equivalent (FTE) for each patient care unit for each 24-hour period and will be displayed on a Minnesota Hospital Quality Report Website. In addition, the reports will provide the actual direct patient care hours per patient and per unit each quarter. The Minnesota Department of Health will also convene a work group to study the correlation between nurse staffing levels and patient outcomes. The work group’s findings must be presented to the chairs and ranking minority member of the House and Senate Health and Human Services Committees.

The version of the bill that was signed into law was scaled down drastically from the original version which would have required hospitals to provide qualified registered nursing personnel according to evidence-based numbers (i.e., ratios) established by the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses; the Association of Operating Room Nurses; the Emergency Nurses Association; and the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. 

The version of the bill that was passed and signed by the Governor was a compromise between the Minnesota Nurses Association and the Minnesota Hospital Association. Some believe the Department of Health study of the correlation between nurse staffing and patient outcomes mandated by the bill will highlight the problems with unsafe nurse staffing in Minnesota hospitals and pave the way for future nurse staffing initiatives in the Minnesota legislature.

AORN Government Affairs will continue to watch for developments and will work with perioperative nurses in the state to ensure one RN circulator per operating room remains the best practice in staffing.

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