NURSING LEVELS: Wilson Urged To Sign Staffing Bill
About 20 nurses and "a few former patients" yesterday rallied outside San Jose Medical Center in support of legislation that would mandate nurse staffing levels in hospitals. SB 1125, sponsored by state Sen. Dede Alpert (D-San Diego), "would require a minimum nurse-to-patient ratio, which would be set by the state Department of Health Services." The state currently mandates such ratios for intensive care units, but requires only that nursing levels must be based on "patient acuity" elsewhere in hospitals. Tracey Ledbetter, a pediatric nurse at Columbia's Good Samaritan Hospital, said, "RNs have too heavy of workloads to adequately care for patients with multiple system illnesses. In these cases, care is delayed or omitted and patients suffer." The bill has passed the state Legislature, but Gov. Pete Wilson has not yet reviewed it. While nurses' and patients' groups support the bill, it is opposed by "groups such as the California Healthcare Association." Spokesperson Mary Wallace said, "It's too complex an issue to be fixed by a one-size-fits-all ratio. It would require hospitals to lay off unlicensed assistants and add registered nurses often times unnecessarily" (Henneman, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/24).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.