Opinion Pieces, Editorial React To Delayed Implementation of Nurse Staffing Ratios
An editorial and two opinion pieces recently looked at the debate over the decision last month by the administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) to delay the implementation of new nurse staffing ratios. California Nurses Association leaders said that they plan to sue this week to overturn Schwarzenegger's executive order to delay the nurse staffing changes (California Healthline, 12/8).
Summaries of recent opinion pieces appear below.
- Deborah Burger, San Francisco Chronicle: Critics of the new staffing regulations have said the ratios could financially harm hospitals and nursing homes, but most facilities are financially stable, and the law already has led to more nurses coming into the state, CNA president Burger writes in a Chronicle opinion piece. Burger concludes that Schwarzenegger's executive order delaying the ratios "has set a dangerous precedent" that would allow the governor to "vacate any health and safety regulations corporations do not like through emergency decrees without legislative or public support" (Burger, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/12).
- Kristine Yahn, San Francisco Chronicle: The order to delay reducing the nurse-to-patient ratios "was a good decision for patients" because "rigid regulatory enforcement and piecemeal approaches" to solving the nursing shortage "are barriers to patient access to care," Yahn -- a registered nurse and executive director of Californians for Patient Care, which is supported by the hospital industry -- writes in a Chronicle editorial piece. Yahn writes that "it is the wrong time" for ratios that could "take hospital beds out of service," adding, "There is no way to magically create more nurses." Yahn concludes that a broad, systemic hospital reform must be crafted by "all stakeholders -- hospitals, professionals, policymakers, insurers and, yes, patients" (Yahn, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/12).
Although the health care community in general "seems capable of having rational discussions" about hospital care, "when it comes to nurses, emotions run too high, too fast," a Fresno Bee editorial states. According to the editorial, nurses are "a very special interest, in the apolitical sense of the term," but it is "hard to tell" what measures should be taken to improve hospital care while limiting costs. The editorial concludes that state colleges and universities should produce "thousands more nurses" no matter which ratio is in effect and notes that nurse staffing "is one piece of a larger puzzle of improving patient care within the financial limits of the system that the patients, one way or another, pay for" (Fresno Bee, 12/14).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.