Selflessness or naked self-interest?

I heard a radio ad yesterday sponsored by the Massachusetts Nursing Association, lobbying for passage of a bill to specify nurse to patient staffing hospital staffing ratios.

According to the narrator:

“Hospitals care about profits, nurses care about patients”

That’s an awfully simplistic and self-serving message. First, there are no for-profit hospitals in Massachusetts. Second, while it sounds better to have more nurses around, the decision on where to expand resources shouldn’t be made in a vacuum. Nurse staffing costs need to be weighed against expenditures on technology, process improvement, and other categories of labor.

In Massachusetts we already have counterproductive featherbedding rules, such as the requirement to have a police detail at every construction site. We don’t need more featherbeds in the hospital.

July 12, 2005

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