Posts made in October 2018

Vote Yes on Question 1 and Keep Nurses and Patients Safe

Unfortunately, ballot questions in Massachusetts have become less about the issue concerned, and more about whoever has the better ad campaign.  This year’s Question 1 is not different.  But when you study the issue, I can’t see how anyone could credibly vote No.  Nurses, who are actually the ones  in the best position to weigh in on the issue seem to overwhelmingly support the measure.  And when all is said and done, the insurance company’s position in opposing the initiative is solely based on cost.  Insurance companies see this as something that will cut into profits.  They then invariably intimate if not explicit state, that they will pass these costs onto the consumer.  With profits and wages and astronomical levels, they do show a certain amount of unmitigated gall when then state that Question 1, if passed, will cause insurance rates to rise.  At its barest essence, Question 1 is about reasonableness and, in the end, safety.  There is only so much that a nurse can safely accomplish when dealing with these high stress matters that require laser focus; and often life and/or death hang in the balance.  Limiting their patients to a manageable number is a safety measure based in reasonableness and experience.  I would strongly urge people to Vote Yes on 1.

Massachusetts Question 1 has Nurses Divided

Few ballot questions have vexed Massachusetts voters more in recent times than Ballot Question #1 which seeks to put strict limits on the number of patients that nurses care for in a hospital setting.  How can we say that it is so controversial?  A WBUR poll of 500 registered nurses reveals that 48 percent plan to vote for the ballot question that would establish maximum nurse-to-patient ratios in state law, and 45 percent say they’ll vote against the very same measure. Only seven percent are undecided.  “Nurses are split on the question,” says pollster Steve Koczela, president of the MassINC Polling Group, which conducted the survey for WBUR.

Those in favor of the measure believe it will enhance patient safety while those against claim that a “one size fits all” approach is too inflexible and will lead to a host of unintended consequences from greater waiting times in emergency rooms to forcing smaller, rural hospitals to close due to their inability to afford the extra nursing staff that will be required.  Should the measure pass, the maximum patient to nurse ratio would be set at 4 to 1 but that ratio can vary depending on the condition of the patient or the unit that they’re in.  For example, in units with post-anesthesia care or operating room patients, the measure would mandate a ratio of one patient under anesthesia per nurse or a maximum of two post anesthesia patients per nurse.

While everyone desires a safer hospital environment for patients, there is no consensus that passing Ballot Question #1 will serve that end.

To Avoid Nursing Home Negligence, Know Your “Rights”

TO AVOID NURSING HOME NEGLIGENCE, KNOW YOUR “RIGHTS”

 

 

Making the decision to admit a loved one to a nursing home can be an agonizing experience.  We are tempted to think of the care rendered by such facilities as impersonal and vastly inferior to that which we would provide to our loved one at home.  This is not always true, of course.  It is an undeniable fact, however, that the resources and attention offered by these facilities are often being stretched beyond the limits of what is safe.  As life expectancy increases, incidents of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have commensurately risen as well.  Population in the nation’s nursing homes has therefore swollen in recent times.  Most alarmingly, perhaps, is that these numbers are projected to dramatically increase over the course of the next several decades.  Our seniors find themselves at increased risk while a patient at these facilities.  The best guard against neglect, is to “know your rights.”  Massachusetts General Laws c. 111 section 70E provides a “bill of rights” that protects every patient.  While the statute is long and comprehensive, several provisions are particularly helpful to nursing home patients.

 

Massachusetts General Laws c. 111 section 70 E provides, in part:

 

Every patient or resident of a facility shall have the right:

*to privacy during medical treatment or other rendering of care within the capacity of the facility;

*to prompt life saving treatment in an emergency without discrimination on account of economic status or

source of payment and without delaying treatment for purposes of prior discussion of the source of payment                                                                  unless such delay can be imposed without material risk to his health, and this right shall also extend to those persons not already patients or residents of a facility if said facility has a certified emergency care unit;

* to informed consent to the extent provided by law;

* upon request, to obtain from the facility in charge of his care the name and specialty, if any, of

the physician or other person responsible for his care or the coordination of his care;

*to confidentiality of all records and communications to the extent provided by law;