Legislators, Again, Grapple With Mandatory Nurse-Patient Ratio

It’s an issue that crops up at the State House every few years and has never been resolved: Should there be a law limiting the number of hospital patients under the care of a nurse at any given time?

This question is back before state lawmakers in this session but this year it may also be on the election ballot.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association says the cost of additional nurses could be offset by savings from better care.

The longstanding feud between the Massachusetts Hospital Association and the Massachusetts Nurses Association about this issue is frustrating many lawmakers. Rep. Marjorie Decker of Cambridge chided hospital executives for not finding a compromise with the nurses union.

“If I were leading the hospitals across the state, and I knew this referendum was coming down the pike, I would certainly be far actively more engaged in trying to have those conversations,” Decker said.