Opinion Pieces Address Delayed Implementation of State Nurse Staffing Rules
The Los Angeles Daily News and Sacramento Bee recently published opinion pieces on the emergency regulations issued by the Department of Health Services earlier this month to delay compliance deadlines for some state nurse staffing rules for hospitals. Summaries are provided below.
- Samantha Kimmel, Los Angeles Daily News: Despite the implementation of the "rational ratio" of six patients per nurse in January, "nurses are still overworked, and there's still a long way to go," Kimmel, a hospital clerk and writer, states in a Daily News opinion piece. According to Kimmel, the issue begs the question of whether a not-for-profit health care organization has "an obligation to the community to spend every single dime on adequate, safe staffing and not on a CEO's bonus package." Kimmel concludes, "You simply cannot have it both ways" (Kimmel, Los Angeles Daily News, 11/13).
- Daniel Weintraub, Sacramento Bee: DHS was "wise" to propose delaying implementation of some of the new nurse staffing rules because the mandate "removes the discretion" over nurse staffing levels "from the people who manage hospitals, replacing their judgment with a one-size-fits-all edit from Sacramento," Bee columnist Weintraub writes. Although the measure that created the ratios was "well intended," it "ignor[ed] the effect on people who, because of the new rules, would not be able to get any care at all" if hospitals eliminated some services because they could not meet the staffing requirements, Weintraub writes. He adds that while it "may be true" that having more nurses results in better patient care, the current nursing shortage means that a compromise must be pursued. California's health care system needs to "find the sweet spot where risk, benefit and cost come into a comfortable balance," Weintraub writes. The nurse-to-patient staffing ratios were a "clumsy way to accomplish that equilibrium," so "[s]lowing [their] full implementation seems reasonable," he concludes (Weintraub, Sacramento Bee, 11/16).
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