California Nurses Association Begins Survey on Compliance With Nurse-to-Patient Ratios
The California Nurses Association on Tuesday began to survey registered nurses at every hospital in the state to determine if facilities are complying with the new state nurse-to-patient ratio rules that took effect Jan. 1, the Oakland Tribune reports (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 1/14). Under the rules, nurses will not have to care for more than eight patients at a time. The rules also call for one nurse per five patients in medical-surgical units by 2005, as well as one nurse per four patients in specialty care and telemetry units and one nurse per three patients in step-down units by 2008. In addition, the regulations state that licensed vocational nurses can comprise no more than 50% of the licensed nurses assigned to patient care and that only registered nurses can care for critical trauma patients. The rules also require at least one registered nurse to serve as a triage nurse in emergency departments (California Healthline, 1/7). Survey questions address whether hospitals are providing the same staffing for all shifts and during breaks and whether hospitals are closing beds, limiting patient admissions or displacing aides to meet the ratio requirements. The CNA will complete the survey by Jan. 30 and will present the results to the public (Oakland Tribune, 1/14).
The nurse-to-patient ratio rules were established in response to "business practices that put hospital profits ahead of safe care" of patients, CNA President Deborah Burger writes in an Oakland Tribune opinion piece. The lawsuit filed by the California Healthcare Association challenging the new ratio rules is "part of a wider political campaign to persuade legislators and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger [R] to repeal or erode the patient protections established by the law," Burger writes, concluding that "California nurses and patients will not stand by as the wealthy hospital industry steps up its efforts to roll back patient protections " (Burger, Oakland Tribune, 1/14).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.