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Pennsylvania Introduces Safe Staffing Bill

Publish Date: August 19, 2013

A bill that would require Pennsylvania hospitals to develop, implement and monitor a professional nurse staffing plan for each hospital unit has been introduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. House Bill 1631 would call for hospitals to establish a professional nurse staffing committee made up of one-half professional nurses currently providing direct patient care and one-half hospital administrative staff and would be charged with the development of the staffing plan within 180 days of the law becoming effective.

To develop the staffing plan, the committee would take several variables into consideration such as the special skills and competencies of the nursing staff, staffing standards recommended by national recognized professional nursing organizations, staff skill mix, other support staff, patient volume, patient acuity, nursing care intensity and patient turnover issues that occur in each unit, the time needed to complete various nursing tasks, and the physical environment including the architecture of each unit and the available technology.

After approval of the plan, the hospital would be required to adopt the plan and make it accessible to all nursing staff. Additionally, the hospital would be required to evaluate the plans and report to the staffing committee at least twice per year. Also required would be development processes where staffing concerns could be addressed. The plan would be reviewed and adjusted by the committee at least twice per year.

AORN’s Position Statement, Operating Room Staffing Skill Mix for Direct Caregivers recommends a perioperative staffing ratio that is fiscally responsible and provides the skill level necessary to promote optimum patient outcomes and efficient patient flow. A perioperative registered nurse functioning in the circulating role should have a 1:1 RN:patient ratio.

AORN Government Affairs will continue to monitor and report on this legislation.