Los Angeles County Supervisor Leads Effort To Delay Implementation of Nurse-to-Patient Ratio Rules
Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich (D) is leading an effort to draft a Board of Supervisors letter asking Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) to delay the deadline for compliance with nurse-to-patient ratio rules set to take effect Jan. 1, the Pasadena Star-News reports (Rester, Pasadena Star-News, 12/2). Under the new rules -- the result of a law former Gov. Gray Davis (D) signed in 1999 -- 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, 11/14). The board has requested more information about how the regulations would affect Los Angeles County, including penalties for violations and if emergency department capacity would be reduced, according to an Antonovich spokesperson. "There's a nursing shortage and we need to better understand how it's going to impact Los Angeles County before we implement [the new rules]," Anotonvich aide Ressie Ramon said (Pasadena Star-News, 12/2). Antonovich's action follows a measure recommended by the Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Commission last month to petition the state for more time to phase in the new ratios; the Board of Supervisors must approve the EMS Commission's request before it can be submitted for state approval (California Healthline, 11/14).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.