Massachusetts hospital staffing law takes effect

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BOSTON (AP) — A new state law sets strict limits on the number of patients that registered nurses who work in hospital intensive care units can be assigned to at a given time.

The law, approved by the Legislature in June, took effect this week in Massachusetts.

It requires that intensive care nurses be assigned ideally to just one intensive care patient, but no more than two at any time.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association said Wednesday it had begun airing TV and radio ads to make the public aware of the new nurse patient-ratios.

The state's Health Policy Commission still has to finalize regulations associated with the new law, including a standardized tool for determining when a nurse can be assigned a second patient. The commission has scheduled a hearing for Oct. 29.

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