Brown Signs One Health Care Worker Safety Bill, Vetoes Another
Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has signed a bill (SB 1299) that requires hospitals to implement violence prevention plans to shield health care workers from aggressive and violent behavior, the Sacramento Business Journal reports.
However, Brown vetoed a separate hospital-safety measure (AB 2616) that would have ensured hospital employees who contract a staph infection are eligible for workers' compensation coverage (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 9/30).
Details of SB 1299
SB 1299 was introduced after two separate attacks occurred at Los Angeles-area medical centers in April.
- Safety training was only required for emergency department staff; and
- Violence prevention plans were only required for EDs and "high risk" areas.
The new law requires a safety plan and training for all departments and staff. Specifically, it calls for:
- Strategies to determine appropriate staff levels to maintain security;
- The creation of systems for investigating instances of violence; and
- Training policies for identifying and responding to violence.
The law also requires hospitals to develop violence prevention plans for:
- Areas with uncontrolled access, such as parking lots; and
- Early morning and late-night shifts.
The law requires hospitals in the state to report violent incidents the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, which will publish an annual report (California Healthline, 8/26).
Hospitals in the state opposed the measure, saying it was unnecessary.
However, California Nurses Association Co-President Deborah Burger in a statement said the new law "will go a long way to assuring a safe and healing environment for patients, families, visitors and [registered nurses] and other hospital staff" (Sacramento Business Journal, 9/30).
Veto of AB 2616
Meanwhile, Brown in a veto message wrote that AB 2616 would "create a first-of-its-kind private employer workers' compensation presumption for a specific staph infection ... for certain hospital employees" (Brown veto message, 9/29).
California hospitals treat about 200,000 patients for antibiotic-resistant staph infections each year, with about 12,000 cases resulting in death, according to the Business Journal (Sacramento Business Journal, 9/30). The bill's regulations would have assumed that any staph infection in a hospital worker was contracted while they were at work (California Healthline, 8/26).
In the veto message, Brown wrote, "The determination that an illness is work-related should be decided by the rules" of the state's no-fault workers' compensation system and the "specific facts" of each employee's case.
However, Brown indicated that the state Department of Industrial Relations will take action against hospitals that try to intimidate nurses from filing workers' compensation claims for staph infections (Brown veto message, 9/29).
New Law Protects Individuals Entering, Leaving Hospitals
In related news, Brown on Tuesday signed a measure (AB 1256) that prohibits individuals from blocking, intimidating or interfering with anyone entering or exiting a hospital or other health care facility.
The measure was opposed by the California Newspaper Publishers Association, which said it could interfere with news gathering efforts (McGreevy/Mason, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 9/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.