New Oregon nurse staffing law leads to outcry

A law requiring stricter nurse and certified nursing assistant staffing ratios at hospitals in Oregon has led to "hundreds" of complaints with the state's healthcare agency, ABC affiliate KATU reported June 12. 

The law, which was passed in August, requires hospitals to have a staffing plan with a minimum of one nurse for every two patients in intensive care units and one nurse for every five patients in surgical care units, and a minimum of one CNA for every seven patients, with laxer ratio requirements during night shifts, according to KATU. The law also requires hospitals to receive approval on staffing plans from a formed staffing committee made up of CNAs, nurses, hospital executives and other staff members.

The Oregon Health Authority, which is the state agency in charge of the new law's implementation, said it has received hundreds of complaints since the law was passed, with many of those complaints received after the law went into effect June 1, according to KATU. The agency has 31 open investigations in response to 110 separate complaints involving 23 hospitals. It completed 12 investigations involving six hospitals and found all 12 of the complaints to be founded. 

In a June 5 news release, the Oregon Nurses Association "[called] on hospital executives to comply with the law and the OHA to immediately investigate all complaints submitted by ONA and our members and to hold hospitals accountable to the fullest extent of the law."

Nurses told KAPU that the move has shifted CNA workloads onto them and has inhibited their ability to properly care for patients.

The Oregon Association of Hospitals and Healthcare Systems declined KATU's request for comment.

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