Sacramento Bee Examines Bills To Allow State To Fine Violators of Nurse-to-Patient Staff Ratios
The Sacramento Bee yesterday examined two bills under consideration in the Legislature that would allow Department of Health Services investigators to fine hospitals that do not comply with recently enacted nurse-to-patient staff ratios (Rapaport, Sacramento Bee, 7/6). Under rules announced by DHS last week, a nurse will not have to care for more than eight patients at a time. The rules call for one nurse per five patients in medical-surgical units by 2005 and one nurse per three patients in telemetry and 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 triage nurse in an emergency department to be a registered nurse (California Healthline, 7/2). Summaries of the provisions in the bills appear below.
AB 253, sponsored by Assembly member Darrel Steinberg (D-Sacramento), would allow state surprise hospital inspections. Under the bill, first-time violators of the nurse-to-patient staff ratios would face fines of $1,000 per day until they comply with the rules; repeat offenders would face fines of $5,000 per day.
- SB 1005, sponsored by Sen. Joseph Dunn (D-Garden Grove), also would allow state surprise hospital inspections and would implement fines for violators of the nurse-to-patient staff ratios similar to those included in AB 253. In addition, the bill would allow state regulators to fine hospitals for violations of other rules.
Both bills have received approval in their houses of origin and await hearings by appropriations committees (Sacramento Bee, 7/6). 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.