MNA Applauds Decision to Follow Law’s Intent by Ensuring Neonatal Intensive Care Units are Covered Under the Law
HPC Rejects Cynical Attempt by MHA to Exclude Safer Care Standards for the Most Vulnerable Newborns
The Health Policy Commission voted today to approve final regulations underpinning the ICU Safe Patient Limits Law, which was enacted last year to ensure patients in Mass hospital ICUs receive one-on-one care from their registered nurse, while allowing a nurse to take a second patient if and when it is deemed safe to do so. The regulations approved today put in place a process for hospitals to follow in developing a tool nurses can use, known as an acuity tool, to assist them in determining when patients are stable enough to allow a two-patient assignment.
The most important development coming out of today’s meeting was a decision by the HPC to follow the intent of the law, which calls for the law to apply to all ICUs, including neonatal intensive care units. The MNA applauds the HPC’s decision to follow the intent of the law, and to reject a cynical attempt the by Massachusetts Hospital Association to convince the HPC to exclude neonatal and pediatric intensive care units from coverage under the law.
“We couldn’t imagine how any responsible public official could support a policy that provides a lower standard of care for critically ill babies, and we are very pleased that the HPC came to the same conclusion and agreed to follow the law,” said MNA President Donna Kelly-Williams, RN, who is a maternity nurse at Cambridge Health Alliance.
While applauding the decision to include all ICUs, the MNA has serious concerns about these regulations, including:
The regulations fail to clearly state the law’s key intent, which was that there is a default one nurse to one patient standard of care for all patients in ALL ICUs. Our fear is that the industry will use the vague language in the regulation to avoid meeting the one-to-one standard for patients that clearly need that level of care – which is happening every day in most of our state’s hospitals.
Despite these concerns, the MNA intends to pursue any and all means to ensure that the true intent of the law and the safe standard of care it dictates for critically ill patients is followed to ensure patients in our hospitals are as safe as possible.
The MNA was shocked to learn at the meeting two weeks ago by the HPC’s Quality Improvement Patient Protection Committee that the committee had not made a final determination as to whether NICUs should be covered by the new law, despite the fact that this is what the law clearly stated and intended. They have left the question of inclusion of NICUs in the law up for a discussion and decision by the full Health Policy Commission.
The HPC Quality Improvement and Patient Protection (QIPP) Committee has held two listening sessions to collect general comment and testimony on issues related to implementation of the law, including the formulation of acuity tools, methods of public reporting, and relevant patient safety quality indicators.
Representatives from the Massachusetts Nurses Association, along with other health care and consumer advocacy groups and legislators who drafted this law, provided testimony at the public hearings on March 25 and April 2 to express our serious concerns about the initial “draft” regulations and where we advocated for needed changes to ensure the intent of the law is followed.