STATEMENT: Vote Yes on Question 1

Research Confirms Staffing Ratios Improve Care, Increase Safety

California Leader Urges Massachusetts to Vote Yes on Question 1 for Patient Safety

UNAC/UHCP President Denise Duncan, RN, released the following statement explaining why Massachusetts voters should vote yes on Question 1:

“Staffing ratios save lives. While my experiences as a registered nurse in California before and after California mandated maximum nurse-to-patient ratios make this abundantly clear, it’s also been borne out in research done by nursing scholar Linda Aiken. In her landmark study of 168 hospitals in Pennsylvania in 1998-1999, she found that each additional patient assigned to a nurse resulted in both a 7% increase in 30-day patient mortality and in failure-to-rescue rates.

“Massachusetts voters have the opportunity next month to put in place basic patient protections that will reduce patient deaths due to understaffing nurses. Alone it won’t ensure safe staffing. But it’s an obvious place to start. I urge voters to support this critical ballot measure.”

Fourteen states currently address nurse staffing in hospitals with official regulations. California is the only state to stipulate minimum nurse-to-patient staffing levels in all hospital units. Hospital units with lower nurse-to-patient staffing ratios had significantly lower incidence of central line IV bloodstream infections, pneumonia associated with ventilators, deaths within 30 days, and bed sores, studies show.


Denise Duncan, RN, is the President of the United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals. Duncan has worked for UNAC/UHCP and union members for nearly three decades and currently serves as UNAC/UHCP President. She’s been a registered nurse for over 35 years. An advocate, a former nursing researcher, and an expert in health care policy and workforce, Duncan has seen firsthand how maximum nurse-to-patient ratios improve care and patient safety.

United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC/UHCP) represents more than 32,000 registered nurses and other health care professionals, including optometrists; pharmacists; physical, occupational and speech therapists; case managers; nurse midwives; social workers; clinical lab scientists; physician assistants and nurse practitioners. UNAC/UHCP is affiliated with the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO.

Contact: Anjetta Thackeray, UNAC/UHCP Communications | | 909-455-5146