PRESS RELEASE: Senator Leyva (D-Chino) *re*introduces bill to end patient suffering in dangerously understaffed hospitals

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 7, 2019

CONTACT: Terry Carter
(805) 312-0024

 

Patients suffer when hospitals break the law.

Determined, Senator Connie M. Leyva reintroduces a bill to improve hospital patient safety.

Sacramento, CA—Today, State Senator Connie M. Leyva (D–Chino) introduced SB 227, co-sponsored by SEIU Local 121RN, SEIU California State Council and United Nurses Associations of California / Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC / UHCP). Like last year’s SB 1288, this year’s bill 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 levy penalties on hospitals that continue to disregard these regulations.

“In our rapidly changing healthcare world, California’s Nurses continue to make patient safety our number one priority, both in our contracts with area hospitals and in these efforts to create a strong enforcement mechanism for existing state regulations,” said SEIU Local 121RN President Gayle Batiste, RN, CNOR at Northridge Hospital Medical Center. “Nurses are determined to ensure California no longer tolerates the flimsy enforcement that has emboldened hospitals to view Title 22 regulations as ‘recommendations’ or ‘guidelines.’ They are not recommendations. They are bare minimums.”

RNs—who referred to SB 1288 last year as the “Stop Repeat Offender Hospitals” bill—say they’re more committed than ever to push against the false narrative and aggressive lobbying that hospital administrators engaged in last year to promote the myth that our hospitals don’t experience unsafe staffing levels. SEIU Local 121RN nurses—like Kathy, Joyce, Alvin and Yolanda—reveal a very different and dangerous reality.

Currently…

  • California leads the nation with its groundbreaking regulations protecting patients and Registered Nurses—but, the enforcement of those regulations is virtually nonexistent, rendering them meaningless in too many hospitals.
  • Unlike other healthcare settings, such as long-term care facilities, hospitals face no financial penalties for violations of staffing ratios.
  • A penalty only kicks in when it’s too late: when there’s a violation that caused, or is likely to cause, serious injury or death to a patient.
  • If there is no serious injury or death, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) simply requests that hospitals submit a “plan of correction” (which many hospitals copy/paste from their last submitted plan).
  • CDPH testified in 2013 that it does not routinely follow up on hospitals’ plans of corrections.
  • Nurse-to-patient ratio laws have gone two decades without any enforcement mechanism to curb repeat offenders.

It’s time to ensure that a person doesn’t have to die before a fine is imposed.

“SB 227 will help to improve patient health and safety by ensuring hospitals in California comply with legally mandated nurse-to-patient staffing ratios,” said Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino). “The stakes for patients are very high and, in order to protect them, CDPH must fully enforce existing law. I thank SEIU California, SEIU Local 121RN and UNAC / UHCP for jointly sponsoring SB 227 and working with me to help protect patients.”

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 Service Employees International Union, Local 121RN represents nearly 9,000 registered nurses and other healthcare professionals at 27 hospitals and facilities in Los Angeles and surrounding counties. This member-led organization is committed to supporting optimum working conditions that allow nurses to provide quality patient care and safety.

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