FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 9, 2019
Nurses report that patients suffer when hospitals break the law…
Sacramento, CA—Nurses sounded the alarm on California hospitals’ unsafe staffing levels. Senators today heeded that alarm. In a 21-to-13 vote, the Senate sends the bill to the Assembly for consideration. The bill, authored by State Senator Connie M. Leyva (D–Chino), 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. (Click here for news coverage on this bill.)
SB 227 is co-authored by Assemblymembers Miguel Santiago, Rob Bonta, Christy Smith, Sharon Quirk-Silva and Freddie Rodriguez and co-sponsored by SEIU Local 121RN, SEIU California State Council and United Nurses Associations of California / Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC / UHCP).
California leads the nation in regulations protecting patients and Registered Nurses. The problem is that there’s no enforcement of those regulations. Nurses report that too many California hospitals ignore the laws that set minimum staffing levels in Emergency Rooms, Intensive Care Units, Labor & Delivery Floors and other patient care areas. This endangers patients, is an unnecessary stress on families, and puts nurses’ licenses and livelihoods at risk.
“In our rapidly changing healthcare world, California’s Nurses continue to make patient safety our number one priority, including this proposed legislation 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 stop hospitals from treating these regulations as ‘recommendations’ or ‘guidelines.’ They are not recommendations. They are bare minimums.”
RNs—who refer to SB 227 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 attack a similar bill. They spread the myth that they don’t engage in unsafe staffing levels. SEIU Local 121RN nurses—like Jennifer, Sally, Mary, Monique, Kathy, Joyce, Alvin and Yolanda—reveal a very different and dangerous reality.
- 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 long-term care facilities and other healthcare settings, hospitals face no financial penalties for violating staffing ratios.
- A penalty only kicks in when it’s too late: a violation 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.
Service Employees International Union, Local 121RN represents more than 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.