AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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AFT Resolutions

SET LIMITS, SAVE LIVES: THE NEED FOR STAFFING RATIOS AND/OR WORKLOAD LIMITATIONS

SET LIMITS, SAVE LIVES: THE NEED FOR STAFFING RATIOS AND/OR WORKLOAD LIMITATIONS TO ENSURE QUALITY PATIENT CARE AND ADDRESS THE SHORTAGE OF HEALTHCARE WORKERS

 

WHEREAS, the quality of care provided in hospitals and other healthcare settings is an issue of deep concern to AFT members and their families; and

 

WHEREAS, there are currently few regulations or standards in place to ensure that a sufficient number of appropriately trained caregivers will be available to care for patients safely or that workloads for therapists, technicians and others involved in direct care will be set at a level to enable them to do their jobs with the care and thoroughness that their professional standards demand; and

 

WHEREAS, the Institute of Medicine reports that as many as 100,000 hospital patients die each year as a result of preventable medical errors; an estimate derived from research that was conducted in the early 1990s, a period when staffing and workload conditions were better than they are today; and

 

WHEREAS, the shortage in many healthcare professions is the result of unsafe staffing and dangerously high workloads.  In recent national surveys sponsored by AFT Healthcare, 87 percent of nurses, 78 percent of respiratory therapists, 68 percent of radiology technicians and 91 percent of certified nursing assistants reported that better staffing ratios would be one of the most effective ways to improve recruitment and retention in the direct-care setting; and

 

WHEREAS, staffing ratios and workload limitations have been shown to improve recruitment and retention where they have been put in place.  In Australia, there has been a 25 percent increase in enrollments to nursing schools, and more than 3,000 nurses have returned to direct care in the 14 months since nurse:patient staffing ratios have been implemented; and

 

WHEREAS, shortages of nurses and other healthcare professionals will seriously affect the working lives of AFT Healthcare members as well as every patient in any healthcare setting:

 

RESOLVED, that AFT support the development of federal and/or state legislation to set staffing ratios and/or workload limitations for all healthcare workers whose jobs affect patient care in order to improve the quality of care patients receive and to begin addressing the serious problems that are creating dangerous workforce shortages in healthcare professions; and

 

RESOLVED, that AFT call for continued research on the degree to which the quality of patient care—including the prevalence of medical errors and other negative outcomes—is related to a lack of sufficient, appropriately trained staff and/or excessive workloads.
(2002)