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States Consider Limiting Nurse-to-Patient Ratio Requirements

State legislators in Illinois, Michigan, and New York seek to set limits on the number of patients that hospital nurses can treat at a time.

Catalyzed by changing political dynamics in these states, these legislative proposals vary:

  • H.B. 2604, in Illinois, would limit each nurse to caring for two patients at a time in critical care, one patient in trauma care, and 4 patients in behavioral health care;
  • S.B. 159, in Michigan, would limit each nurse to caring for one patient at a time in critical care, one patient in trauma care, and 4 patients in behavioral health care; and
  • A. 2954 and S. 1032, in New York, would limit each nurse to caring for two patients at a time in critical care and one patient in trauma care, respectively.

California is the only state that has enacted a nurse-to-patient staffing ratio law, effective 2004. Most recently, a Massachusetts ballot measure that would have imposed nurse-to-patient staffing ratios failed in the state’s 2018 election.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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About the Author

Kelcie Jimenez is a state policy analyst at America's Essential Hospitals.