Elected policymakers for the American Nurses Association approved several measures during the ANAs House of Delegates meeting June 13-16, including renewed efforts to address issues that affect nurses in the workplace.
The resolution on nurse staffing identifies short-staffing as a top issue that negatively affects patient care and job satisfaction among direct-care nurses. It notes that staffing decisions remain largely outside of nurses control, and that staffing plans lack enforcement mechanisms.
According to the resolution, the ANA should “reaffirm its dedication” to advocating for a staffing process, directed by nurses, that is enforceable and includes staffing principles, minimum nurse-to-patient ratios, data collection and penalties for noncompliance in all healthcare settings where staffing is a challenge.”
“Finding solutions to unsafe nurse staffing conditions is a top priority for ANA,” Karen A. Daley, RN, PhD, MPH, FAAN, president of the ANA, said in a news release. “It is not acceptable to put patients at risk because of inadequate staffing. Research shows that higher levels of nurse staffing result in better patient outcomes, so our job is to make sufficient staffing a reality nationwide.”
The ANA in March updated its Principles for Nurse Staffing (www.nursingworld.org/principles), strengthening the focus on the work environment and broadening it to include all nursing practice settings. The Board of Directors also acknowledged the validity of nurse-to-patient ratios set by law when combined with strategies that encompass facility and unit level considerations.
The workplace violence prevention resolution notes that healthcare workplaces experience a disproportionate share of nonfatal violence. It asks the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to require employers to develop workplace violence prevention programs that would include employee involvement; risk assessment and surveillance; environmental, architectural and security controls; and training and education.
In the ANAs 2011 Health & Safety Survey, about one in 10 nurses reported having been physically assaulted in the past year, half had been threatened or verbally abused and a third ranked on-the-job assault as one of their three top safety concerns. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, RNs in 2009 reported more than 2,000 assaults and violent acts that required four days away from work on average.
Another resolution advocates for the education of nurses about health risks associated with coal-fired power plants, coal excavation, oil and natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing; and to enhance the role of nurses in advocating for healthier energy choices, including conservation and renewable energy sources.
The ANA will support activities that monitor, reduce and remediate environmental health risks. The association has been engaged in legal action to require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to enforce more effective and protective pollution control standards for coal-fired power plants that emit hazardous air pollutants such as mercury (see Nurse.coms report from March at www.Nurse.com/ANAAirPollution).