Leyva Bill Improving Hospital Patient Safety Passes Senate

SB 1288 Supported by Broad Coalition of Labor and Patient Advocates

SACRAMENTO – Legislation authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) that will protect patient safety and reinforce nurse staffing ratio requirements passed from the California State Senate earlier today.

In order to enhance hospital patient safety, Senate Bill 1288 would require the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to conduct unannounced visits to hospitals to inspect for compliance with nurse staffing requirements.  The proposal empowers CDPH to enforce the nurse staffing ratios by fining hospitals that repeatedly create unsafe conditions for patient care.

In 1999, Governor Gray Davis signed into law Assembly Bill 394, the nation’s first law mandating nurse-to-patient ratios in California. In 2004, regulations implementing AB 394 went into effect, which set the minimum ratio of nurses to patient by unit, including one-to-one in operating rooms and one-to-five in general medical-surgical units. Enforced by CDPH, these ratios are outlined in Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations. Though these ratios are mandated by law, hospitals repeatedly violate staffing requirements. From 2008 to 2017, there were 632 out-of-ratio deficiencies reported to CDPH.  Violating nurse staffing ratios can potentially endanger the health and safety of hospital patients.

“It is critically important that hospitals prioritize the safety of patients by following the nurse-to-patient staffing ratios required by law.  SB 1288 ensures that hospitals meet the letter of the law and, if and when they repeatedly ignore nurse staffing ratios, CDPH has the ability to fine those facilities so that they do not continue to jeopardize the safety of patients,” Senator Leyva said.  “I thank my Senate colleagues for approving this legislation today that protect patients by making sure that hospitals comply with existing law.”

Co-sponsored by SEIU California, SEIU Local 121RN and United Nurses Associations of California / Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC / UHCP) and supported by the California Labor Federation, California Nurse Association / National Nurses United, California School Nurse Organization, Congress of California Seniors, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, SB 1288 now advances to the California State Assembly for consideration.

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