Editorial, Opinion Piece Address Delay of Implementation of Nurse-To-Patient Ratio Rules
Two newspapers on Thursday published an editorial and an opinion piece addressing the decision to delay implementation of some state nurse-to-patient ratio rules. The Department of Health Services on Nov. 4 proposed emergency regulations that would ease the state's new nurse-to-patient staffing ratio requirements to help address increased hospital costs (California Healthline, 11/5). Summaries appear below.
- Riverside Press-Enterprise: The shortage of nurses in California hospitals is "not something a state mandate can change" and the "decision to delay a deadline for lower nurse-patient ratios puts practicality ahead of politics," a Press-Enterprise editorial states. The editorial states, "Increasing the supply of nurses offers a better long-term solution than setting rigid staffing levels," but "that will take money." Noting that most nurses in California are trained in community colleges, the editorial states that California might need to "revise its funding formula" for community colleges because the formula provides a "flat sum for each student, even though training nurses costs more than educating students in other disciplines" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 11/11).
- Deborah Burger, San Jose Mercury News: Since the nurse-to-patient ratio law was signed, what "looked like an implacable nursing shortage is being eased" with more registered nurses "coming into the state than leaving," Burger, president of the California Nurses Association, writes in a Mercury News opinion piece. According to Burger, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) order to delay implementation of the rules "weakens" emergency department ratios that "have produced much safer care." She adds that the "rollback will mean longer waiting times and more patients leaving without being seen." Burger concludes that the "governor should be promoting solutions, such as assuring a single standard of care for all Californians, rather than eroding access and undermining hospital safety simply to please his corporate friends" (Burger, San Jose Mercury News, 11/11).