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PRESS RELEASE: Senator Connie M. Leyva introduces SB 1288 to improve hospital patient safety after nurses sound alarm on California hospitals’ unsafe staffing crisis

February 16, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 16, 2018 CONTACT: Terry Carter, (805) 312-0024

Sacramento, CA—Today, State Senator Connie M. Leyva (D–Chino) introduced SB 1288, co-sponsored by SEIU Local 121RN and SEIU California State Council. 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 hospitals who continue to flout these 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, both in our contracts with area hospitals and by working to pass new legislation or strengthen existing law,” said SEIU Local 121RN President Gayle Batiste, RN, a Certified Nurse, Operating Room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center. “SB 1288 is a continuation of those efforts. Nurses will continue to do our part. We will continue to report patient safety violations. We will no longer tolerate the weak enforcement that has emboldened hospitals to view Title 22 regulations as ‘recommendations’ or ‘guidelines.’ They are not recommendations. They are bare minimums.”

Today, California leads the nation in regulations protecting patients and Registered Nurses. The problem is that the enforcement of those regulations is slow, inadequate—often nonexistent. For example, a 2012 Senate Floor analysis noted that, according to the Department of Public Health, there were 465 official complaints against Southern California hospitals’ illegal and dangerous lack of staffing from 2004 to 2010. But of those 465, only two actually resulted in hospital fines.

“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,” said Senator Leyva. “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.”

SEIU Local 121RN nurses—like Kathy, Joyce, Alvin and Yolanda—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.


Service Employees International Union, Local 121RN represents 8,800 registered nurses and other healthcare professionals at 26 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.