(SACRAMENTO) – Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez (D-Pomona) moved Assembly Bill 1102 out of the Assembly Health Committee the afternoon of March 28 with the assistance of SEIU 121RN and SEIU Nurse Alliance of California members who testified and were out in full force lobbying legislators for their support.
Over the past several days, dozens of support phone calls from nurses across the state made their way to Committee members. This critical legislation will prohibit a hospital from retaliating against nurses who refuse to violate mandated nurse-to-patient safety ratios. Nurses are frequently asked to accept staffing assignments that would force them to go over the ratio prescribed in California law, which places nurses and patients at risk. While this practice also puts Registered Nurses in jeopardy of losing their license, it means patients are not receiving the medical attention they deserve.
“AB 1102 means better healthcare for patients and safer working conditions for registered nurses,” Rodriguez said. “Safe nurse-to-patient ratios have resulted in across-the-board safety for everyone in the medical industry. Patient safety in California should never be compromised. As an Emergency Medical Technician for over 30 years, I have seen first-hand how critical an appropriate nurse-to-patient ratio is to the delivery of quality care.”
This legislation extends existing healthcare worker whistleblower protections to nurses who are asked by their employees to violate nurse staffing ratio laws. AB 1102 would mean nurses are taken out of the position of having to choose between the safety of their patients or being disciplined or fired for refusing to put their patients and RN license in jeopardy.
Emily Marquardt, an RN at Kindred Hospital – South Bay, traveled to Sacramento with a group of more than 20 SEIU nurses from around California, to ask lawmakers to support the bill. She relayed a recent incident where she felt management put her patients’ safety at risk:
“Just on Sunday, [management] scheduled me as a Charge Nurse, have three patients of my own and admit a fourth patient,” Marquardt said. “Around 5 o’clock, one of my nurses had a patient whose blood pressure dropped to the point that they were in danger of organ failure. I had to stay at the bedside with this other nurse for two hours to stabilize the patient, which caused neglect, to some some extent, of my other patients. If management followed the law, I would not have had my own patient load while serving as a Charge Nurse.”
The bill passed the Health Committee in spite of opposition to the bill by the California Hospital Association (CHA). CHA opposes the bill unless we agree to amendments that would significantly weaken the bill and its benefit to patients.
The bill now moves to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
Want to help ensure the bill passes the next hurdle?
- We’re asking all RNs to call members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee to urge them to vote in favor of AB 1102. Click here for a list of Judiciary Committee members and their contact information.
- If you have friends who are nurses at facilities not represented by SEIU or who are members of another nursing union, tell them about this legislation and ask them to call members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, as well.
- Sign up for our lobbying training on April 27 so you can help lobby legislators.
The bill’s author, Assemblymember Rodriguez, represents the 52nd Assembly District which includes the cities of Chino, Montclair, Ontario, Pomona and portions of unincorporated Fontana. He is Chair of The Assembly Committee on Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security.