Union Training Nurses How to ‘Police’ Hospitals for Violations of New Minimum Staffing Ratios
Following last month's announcement of proposed minimum nurse-to-patient ratios for hospitals, the California Nurses Association has begun conducting training sessions for nurses on how to report hospitals that violate the new standards, the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal reports. According to officials with the Department of Health Services, it is unlikely that the agency will employ observers to check hospitals for compliance with the ratios, which the state hopes to implement by July 2003. Instead, the nurses union "plans to police" hospitals themselves. According to Jill Furillo, director of government relations for the 40,000-member CNA, the union has held two training sessions instructing nurses how to report hospitals that do not meet the staffing standards (May, Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, 2/15). The proposed regulations, which are subject to public hearings and could be changed, would initially establish a ratio of one nurse for every six patients on general medical floors. Eighteen months after implementation of the rules, the standard would be narrowed to 1-to-5. The rules would also set a 1-to-1 ratio for nurses and patients in trauma centers, a 1-to-4 ratio for pediatric nurses and child patients and a 1-to-2 ratio for obstetric nurses and women in labor (California Healthline, 1/23). The CNA is planning at least an additional 17 meetings across the state before the union "takes it campaign on the road to convince other states to pass a similar law." California is the first state to approve such a law. Gov. Gray Davis (D) announced the staffing ratios last month, following two years of study by the health department (Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, 2/15).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.