The Major Impact of Question 1 on South Shore Hospital's Emergency Department

Weymouth, MA – October 10, 2018 – South Shore Health System reaffirmed today its opposition to mandated nurse staffing ratios, citing the devastating impacts the rigid government requirements would have on its ability to provide emergency care to patients. Slated to be Question 1 on the ballot this November, these unnecessary and unfounded staffing requirements will dramatically increase emergency room wait times and delay life-saving services in hospitals across the state.

“Our emergency department is a vital resource to every single member of our community,” said Dr. Jason Tracy, Chairman of Emergency Medicine at South Shore Health System. “This ballot question would cripple our ability to provide care when and where our patients need it most.”

The enormous costs and operational hurdles associated with the nurse staffing ballot question will set South Shore Hospital back $33.2 million, but hospitals will see severely negative impacts in emergency departments. Wait times in the emergency room will dramatically increase, causing delayed services throughout the hospital – including those that are time-sensitive and life-saving. Question 1 will cause South Shore Health System to treat 120 less patients in its emergency department per day.

Question 1 and South Shore Hospital ED
The Impact of Question 1 on South Shore Hospital's ED

“The staggering costs outlined in the independent Health Policy Commission cost analysis (over $949 million state wide) did NOT include the additional costs required to meet the mandated staffing ratios in emergency departments.  That’s estimated to be an additional $162 million,” Tracy said. For our department alone, this would be $16.3 million.  Essential services that we’ve spent decades building for our community would have to be eliminated.  Care won’t be delivered locally – our non-profit charity will no longer be able to provide the services our emergency department patients depend upon every hour of every day.”

There are no exceptions to this mandate, even in the event of an unexpected influx of patients – such as a multi-car crash or large fire. According to an independent study by MassInsight and BW Research Partners, mandated nursing staffing requirements would exacerbate the current nursing shortage, which is currently highest in Psychiatric units (7.8%) and in Emergency Departments (7.5%).

The ballot question would require that hospitals across the state, no matter their size or specific needs of their patients, adhere to the same rigid nurse staffing ratios within all patient care areas at all times. The petition does not make allowances for rural or small community hospitals, holding them to the same staffing ratios as major Boston teaching hospitals.

The ballot question is opposed by the American Nurses Association - Massachusetts, Emergency Nurses Association - Massachusetts Chapter, Organization of Nurse Leaders, Infusion Nurses Society, Massachusetts Association of Colleges of Nursing,  Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses’ Greater Boston Chapter, the Western Massachusetts Nursing Collaborative, the Massachusetts College of Emergency Physicians, the Massachusetts Medical Society, the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, the Massachusetts Council of Community Hospitals, the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals, and other healthcare and business leaders across the state.

To learn more about the risks associated with Question 1, please visit the Coalition to Protect Patient Safety.