On September 25, Governor Brown signed our legislation, Assembly Bill 1102 (which amends Section 1278.5 of the Health and Safety Code) into law.
We worked with Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez (D—Pomona), who introduced the bill. We found that the old fines designed to penalize a hospital for cutting corners on staffing were outdated and simply too low. It was clear that hospital management considered these fines “the cost of doing business.”
These minimal current fines had not been updated in 20 years. Hospitals have been willing to roll the dice and have even disciplined the conscientious nurses (like Miriam) who objected to violations of the law. This is in direct violation of the whistleblower protections afforded to nurses.
The bottom line is: we know that cutting corners and short-staffing puts patients at risk. AB 1102 will increase the fines for a willful violation of whistleblower protection laws from a current ceiling of $20,000 to up to $75,000. These higher fines (which are levied against both hospitals and individual managers)—and our continued commitment to blow the whistle when we see illegal short-staffing—will make it much less appealing for profit-minded hospitals cut corners.