Nurse Ratios Stir Debate

Bill filed to counter Howard's RN proposal

The National Nurses Organizing Com­mit­tee has landed sponsors for its legislation to mandate minimum nurse-to-patient ratios in Texas hospitals. Last week, Rep. Senfronia Thompson and Sen. Mario Gallegos, both of Houston, filed the Texas Hospital Patient Protection Act (Hosue Bill 1489/Senate Bill 1000). Thompson said she decided to sign on with the bill after her granddaughter went to Huntsville Memorial Hos­pital with a 104.6-degree temperature, waited more than four hours, and ultimately left untreated. "Those nurses were so overburdened with people coming into the ER, and here's a child almost having seizures," Thompson said. Gallegos said he was motivated by his brush with death after a liver transplant last year.

The NNOC also took a swipe at Austin Rep. Donna Howard's HB 591, which would elevate the role of nurses in staffing decisions but not mandate ratios, saying in a press release, "The Texas Hospital Assoc­iation has proposed legislation to block safe RN-to-patient ratios." Replied Howard: "The NNOC's statement is not accurate." Noting that the NNOC urged the Senate Health and Human Services Committee to add language it believed would strengthen HB 591, Howard said the political reality is her bill may be too strong for the business-loving Lege – instead of adopting the NNOC's language, the committee discussed removing whistle-blower protections.

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National Nurses Organizing Committee, Donna Howard, Senfronia Thompson, Mario Gallegos, 81st Legislature

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