Massachusetts nurses are renewing a long-standing effort to implement nurse-to-patient limits with a rally outside various hospitals today including Tufts Medical Center.

“Nurses are trying to run around and put out fires instead of provide nursing care,” said Barbara Tiller, a 21-year veteran nurse who works at Tufts.

Members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, a union representing 23,000 nurses, will rally for state legislation that would limit the number of patients a nurse can assist. The ratio would vary by unit, but MNA members are pushing for a 1:4 nurse-to-patient ratio.

The ratio legislation has failed to pass for about 15 years.

MNA officials cited layoffs and changes in care practice as causes that lead to nurses caring for up to eight patients at a time and performing other duties.

The nurses are in contract negotiations with the two hospitals where today’s rallies are planned, said David Schildmeier, a MNA spokesman.

Rally just a ‘tactic,’ Tufts says

Julie Jette, a Tufts spokeswoman, said there have not been wholesale layoffs of nurses or other staff and that today’s rally is a “tactic.”

“The Massachusetts Nurses Association plans to use our hospital as a prop to push its legislative agenda as part of a high-pressure bargaining tactic,” the statement said.

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