HOSPITAL WHISTLEBLOWERS: Gov. to Consider Special Protection Bill
The Senate yesterday sent to the governor a measure that would enhance protections for hospital workers and patients who report hospital violations. SB 97, authored by Senate leader John Burton (D-San Francisco), is modeled after a set of special protections that nursing home whistleblowers have enjoyed for 20 years. Although current California law protects all employees who report legal or regulatory violations from "employer retaliation," it does not cover "the kind of violations sometimes encountered by workers in hospitals, such as unsafe conditions or unprofessional conduct," according to the California Nurses Foundation, the bill's sponsor. The bill not only extends protection to a wider range of grievances for hospital whistleblowers, but also introduces the option of civil penalties of up to $25,000 -- stiffer than current allowances for general employment grievances. Penalties would be administered by the state Department of Health Services. The measure's opponents, led by the California Healthcare Association, say it would unfairly shift the burden of proof to hospitals. Gov. Davis has not indicated his stance on the legislation (Henshaw, Gannett/Capitol Alert, 7/9).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.