California is the only state in the nation with nurse-to-patient ratios for every unit. These regulations are intended to keep our patients safe.
The trouble is the penalties for violating the law are nearly nonexistent. Hospitals claim Title 22 regulations are just “recommendations” or “guidelines.” Most are never fined unless there’s a patient death or serious injury. By then, it’s too late.
On February 16, 2018, State Senator Connie M. Leyva (D—Chino) introduced SB 1288, which the RNs of SEIU Local 121RN co-sponsored to help California enforce its safe staffing regulations. SB 1288 will protect patient safety by fining hospitals that constantly put our patients’ care in danger. On April 18, 2018, the bill cleared its first hurdle, winning nearly unanimous support in the Senate Health Committee.
SEIU Local 121RN nurses like…
READ KATHY’S STORY
READ JOYCE’S STORY
…worked with Senator Leyva to examine ways to raise standards and challenge hospitals to be real partners with us and all Californians as we work together to strengthen patient care.
LAST YEAR, we successfully strengthened California’s Whistleblower Protection laws. Signed into law in September, Assembly Bill 1102 (which amends Section 1278.5 of the Health & Safety Code) increases the fines on our employers if they retaliate against us for reporting unlawful assignments that put patient safety and our RN license at risk.
THIS YEAR, we will continue to work with Senator Connie Leyva (District 20, Inland Empire) to pass SB 1288, which will put some real teeth into the regulations that set staffing levels in our hospitals. We frequently report that our hospitals ignore the laws that set minimum staffing levels in our Emergency Rooms, Intensive Care Units, Labor & Delivery Floors and other patient care areas. This endangers patients, is an unnecessary stress on families, and puts our licenses and livelihoods at risk. Now we will work to make sure this bill gets passed.
What will the bill do?
SB 1288 will mandate unannounced inspections of hospitals with a special focus on adherence to California’s nurse-to-patient ratios as regulated by Title 22. This bill will also increase the penalties assessed against repeat offender hospitals who continue to flout these regulations. No longer will hospitals be able to simply submit a plan when they are cited for staffing violations. Repeat offender hospitals will be subject to ever-increasing fines.
As Senator Leyva says, “SB 1288 is important legislation that will help to improve patient health and safety by ensuring that hospitals comply with legally mandated nurse-to-patient staffing ratios. The state needs to take a more proactive role by conducting unannounced visits at hospitals across California. We must do everything we can to make sure that we fully enforce existing law, since the stakes are simply too high for patients. I thank SEIU California and SEIU Local 121RN for co-sponsoring SB 1288 and standing alongside me in our fight to protect patients and making sure that nurses are able to properly care for their patients.”
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What can I do?
Like last year, we will work hard to ensure our bill gets strong bi-partisan support and makes it all the way to the Governor’s desk for his signature. We’ll do it by speaking out, sharing our stories, talking to our co-workers about this important bill, lobbying legislators and speaking to the press.
Here are some ways to get involved: