Gunther Supports Legislation Protecting, Informing Patients

March 11, 2005

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther (D-Forestburgh) announced the Assembly passed legislation requiring hospitals and nursing homes to disclose information related to staffing levels, and prohibiting staff members who are not registered nurses or licensed practical nurses from portraying themselves as "nurses" (A.3543-A).

"As a nurse for almost three decades, I’ve seen firsthand the problems facing our health care system," Gunther said. "Many registered nurses are being replaced with unlicensed personnel and patients may not know how qualified the person treating them actually is. Our families deserve to know they are receiving the best possible care from the most skilled personnel at all times."

Gunther noted that a 2001 report, Nurse Staffing and Patient Outcomes in Hospitals by the Harvard School of Public Health, linked nurse-to-patient ratios to improved patient outcomes. To help address the problem, this legislation will require that consumers be informed about nurse-to-patient ratios, while also limiting the term "nurse" to licensed personnel and requiring more reliable ways to assess whether or not quality care is being provided – such as rates of infection, incidence of patient falls and bedsores and medication errors.

"This is about saving lives and it is crucial that this information be provided to patients and their families," Gunther said. "I will continue working to ensure our families have all the information they need and deserve when it comes to health care options."