Press Release

AFT's Weingarten on Nurse Staffing Standards for Hospital Patient Safety and Quality Care Act

For Release: 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019


Elena Temple

WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten released the following statement on the Nurse Staffing Standards for Hospital Patient Safety and Quality Care Act introduced by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio):

“Every day, thousands of nurses around the country report to work and are overwhelmed by their patient load. They balance care, paperwork and the near-constant demands of their job, terrified there are too many patients and not enough nurses. That fear can impact their ability to provide patients with what they need.

“For some nurses, the greater fear is in speaking up: When they do advocate for safer nurse-to-patient ratios, they are retaliated against, targeted, and may be disciplined by their supervisors. This threat to nurse safety is ultimately a threat to patient health: Safe staffing levels make workplaces safer, and that makes patient outcomes better. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, reducing the number of patients a nurse takes care of can account for a significant decrease in patient deaths. Safe, welcoming workplaces are crucial for every member of our union, and for the people we serve.

“During National Nurses Week, we must do everything we can to stand up for the people who have devoted their careers and their lives to taking care of others. Thanks to two of our greatest champions, Sen. Brown and Rep. Schakowsky, for honoring and respecting our country’s nurses with legislation to keep them safe on the job, and in turn, to protect the people they care for.”

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.