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Letter to the Mayor and Council of the District of Columbia Supporting Passage of the Patient Protection Act

The Honorable Vincent Gray, Mayor
The Honorable Phil Mendelson, Chairman, District Council
The Honorable Yvette Alexander
The Honorable Marion Barry
The Honorable Anita Bonds
The Honorable Muriel Bowser
The Honorable David Catania
The Honorable Mary Cheh
The Honorable Jack Evans
The Honorable Jim Graham
The Honorable David Grosso
The Honorable Kenyan McDuffie
The Honorable Vincent Orange
The Honorable Tommy Wells

For more than 40 years, Public Citizen has advocated for a healthier and more equitable world by making government work for the people and by defending democracy from corporate greed. We were very pleased by the introduction of the Patient Protection Act in the District Council by Chairman Mendelson and nine other Councilmembers to contend with the crisis of understaffing in the District’s hospitals.

The academic literature is clear: Having an insufficient number of registered nurses (RNs) at hospital bedsides can increase the incidence of hospital-acquired infections, falls and injuries, pressure sores, and other preventable complications suffered by patients. In addition, denying RNs the time they need to teach patients and their families at the time of discharge can lead to preventable hospital readmissions. The federal Affordable Care Act has already commenced penalizing hospitals with high readmissions, and several hospitals in the District are facing substantial financial penalties from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services as a result. Passage of the Patient Protection Act would dramatically improve this situation. Patients in California hospitals have benefited from mandatory minimum nurse-to-patient ratios for almost a decade, and the people of the District of Columbia deserve no less.

Public Citizen strongly supports the Patient Protection Act, and we urge the Council to pass this vital piece of legislation without delay.


Robert Weissman
President, Public Citizen

Michael Carome, M.D.
Deputy Director
Public Citizen’s Health Research Group.

May 18, 2013, Response from D.C. Council member Mary Cheh