NURSE STAFFING: Bill Awaits Wilson’s Decision
The state Department of Health Services would "set minimum nurse-patient ratios and prohibit unlicensed hospital workers from performing a nurse's job," if Gov. Pete Wilson signs SB 1125. The state Legislature passed the Safe Nursing Care Bill last week, the Sacramento Bee reports. State Sen. Dede Alpert (D-Coronado) sponsored the bill in response to concerns that understaffing is jeopardizing patient care. The California Nurses Association "says managed care has pushed hospitals to reduce costs and has led to a reliance on nursing aides and others to handle jobs nurses have traditionally held" (Griffith, 9/8). Moreover, the CNA notes that currently mandated nurse-patient "ratios exist only in critical care or intensive care units." By extending the requirement throughout all nursing units, CNA Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro said the bill will allow "[e]very licensed nurse in California to provide safe, quality care for their patients" (CNA release, 9/2).
Hospitals Speak OutHospitals and executive level nurses, however, argue that "new regulations would deprive them of staffing flexibility, especially during a nursing shortage." Mary Wallace, a spokesperson for the California Healthcare Association, counters that "[h]ospital operations are too complex and diverse to be managed by a one-size-fits-all ratio. An organization like a hospital cannot be run effectively under a government directive." According to the Bee, the "Department of Health Services opposes the bill," and the "governor has not indicated a position on" it and "may not review it until late next week" (9/8).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.