Department of Health Services Will Miss Deadline for Issuing Nurse Staffing Ratios
The California Department of Health Services will miss the Jan. 1 deadline to set minimum staffing ratios for hospital nurses because the agency cannot decide what the ratio should be, the Stockton Record reports. Under a 1999 law, the state must set the ratio by next year, but since new regulations require a 45-day period for public comment, it is "already too late to get the job done on time" (Shuck, Stockton Record, 12/12). Current law requires one nurse for every two patients in intensive care units, but hospitals have the discretion to set ratios in other wards (Goad/Beeman, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 12/12). Although the department could issue emergency regulations and take comment afterward, department spokesperson Lea Brooks said the agency is "commit[ted]" to allowing a public comment period before the regulations are adopted (Stockton Record, 12/12). She added, "It's a very complex project. We want to make sure that they are done correctly and accurately" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 12/12). Union representatives were "surprised" by the delay, the Record reports. "We've had nothing to indicate a delay. We expect the ratios will be implemented in January," Charles Idelson, a spokesperson for the California Nurses Association, said (Stockton Record, 12/12).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.