Proposed Legislation would Regulate Nurse to Patient Ratios

Cindy Morley

Thursday, February 20th, 2020

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While most of the attention of state lawmakers has been on budgets and crunching numbers the past few weeks, a state Representative has filed legislation that would limit the number of patients a nurse can be assigned at one time.

Sandra Scott (D-Rex) said she introduced House Bill 801 after hearing from “too many Georgia nurses who say they’re overwhelmed by the number of patients they’re tasked with taking care of.”

“House Bill 801 brings awareness to the pressure and stress that our nurses face every day,” said Scott. “As lawmakers, we need to ensure that every patient receives the best standard of care. Therefore, it is critical that we start the conversation on how we can assist the medical profession in looking at ways to attract more nurses and cut down on the nurse to patient ratio.”

Under the proposed legislation, the number of patients that could be assigned to a nurse would range from one to six depending on the type of department or unit they are working in including: critical care, intermediate care, post anesthesia care, operating rooms, emergency departments, maternal child care, pediatric care, psychiatric units, medical and surgical units, telemetry units, observational units, acute rehabilitation and specialty care.

Scott added that for any other unit not specified by HB 801, a maximum of four patients could be assigned to a registered nurse.

As proposed, HB 801 would require permanent and temporary nursing staff to undergo specialized training before they are assigned to a specific nursing unit or clinical area. Scott added that hospitals and health care facilities would be required to adopt written policies and procedures for such training, and facilities that violate these regulations would be fined up to $25,000 for each day that the violation continues.

The bill has been assigned to the Health and Human Services Committee.