Senate Health Committee Approves Leyva’s Hospital Nurse Staffing Ratio Bill

A bill authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) aimed at enhancing patient safety and reinforcing nurse staffing ratio requirements passed the Senate Health Committee on April 18.
Co-sponsored by Service Employees International Union and United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals, Senate Bill 1288 would require the California Department of Public Health to conduct unannounced visits to hospitals to inspect for compliance with nurse staffing requirements and empower the California Department of Public Health to enforce the nurse staffing ratios through fines.
In 1999, Governor Gray Davis signed into law AB 394, mandating nurse-to-patient ratios in California. In 2004, regulations implementing AB 394 went into effect. The regulations set the minimum ratio of nurses to patient by unit, including one-to-one in operating rooms and one-to-five in general medical-surgical units.
Despite the mandated ratios, hospitals repeatedly violate staffing requirements, according to Leyva. From 2008 to 2017, there were 632 out-of-ratio deficiencies reported, she said.  Overworked nurses can potentially endanger the health and safety of hospital patients, Leyva said.
“It is critical that nurse staffing ratios are adhered to by hospitals, particularly since patient safety can be compromised when nurses are overworked and not given much needed support,” Senator Leyva said. “SB 1288 will improve healthcare quality in California hospitals, simply requiring that hospitals actually meet the existing staffing ratio requirements.”
The Senate Appropriations Committee will consider SB 1288 later this spring.

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