FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 3, 2021
CONTACT: Terry Carter (805) 312-0024 Hal Weiss (213) 247-4585
Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel introduces AB 1422 to bring public transparency to the dangerous practice of sidestepping nurse-to-patient ratio regulations.
Sacramento, CA—On February 19, Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D – Woodland Hills) introduced Assembly Bill 1422, the “Patients’ Right to Know” bill co-sponsored by SEIU Local 121RN and SEIU California. Building on 2019’s SB 227, the “Stop Repeat Offender Hospitals” bill, this year’s bill will improve transparency when hospitals request “program flexibility” waivers.
These waivers allow hospitals to operate in the dark as they slash staffing levels, dodge California’s groundbreaking nurse-to-patient ratios as regulated by Title 22, potentially endanger patients and put RNs’ licenses at risk. Nurses believe that patients deserve to know that hospital administrators too often—and with unnecessary risk—fail to ensure there are enough RNs on duty to properly take care of patients.
No one wants to be a patient in a dangerously understaffed hospital.
AB 1422 would require any hospital applying for a waiver to:
- Submit supporting evidence showing the need for program flexibility.
- Demonstrate that low staffing won’t compromise patient care. (Take it from Nurses: of course it compromises patient care. See bit.ly/Pandemic-Staffing for a New York Times investigation into how low staffing increased mortality during the COVID-19 surge there in spring 2020. See also this study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.)
- Give both the public and Nurses a 40-day window to make public comment to provide arguments against letting hospitals skirt safe staffing regulations.
- Post its waiver application where both patients and staff can see it, bringing much more transparency than currently exists to this practice of having Nurses care for more than the recommended maximum number of patients.
Simply put: AB 1422 will add more pressure on hospitals to follow the laws on safe staffing.
“As the son of a nurse, I learned firsthand that nurses are both compassionate caregivers as well as devoted patient advocates, which is why it’s so important that they have a voice in critical hospital safety decisions,” said Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel. “I am proud to partner with SEIU and nurses across California to advance this important legislation.”
“This legislation is designed to strengthen our ‘Stop Repeat Offender Hospitals’ win in 2019, which created an escalating fine structure for hospitals that ignore the rules. Governor Newsom signed this bill because he listened to nurses and patients instead of the hospitals’ corporate PAC,” said SEIU Local 121RN President Dr. Nina Wells, DNP, MSN-NE, RN, PHN, at St. John's Regional Medical Center in Oxnard. “The hospital industry made SB 227 their number one ‘kill bill’ in 2019 and waged an aggressive and costly disinformation campaign that Nurses effectively refuted. We expect the industry to oppose accountability again this year, but Nurses are stepping up and leading with a laser focus to ensure compliance with California’s groundbreaking regulations protecting patients and Nurses.”
“Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, our hospitals cut corners in extremely dangerous ways. The pandemic—and our nation’s uneven response, our hospitals’ lack of preparedness, and the sluggish responses from enforcing agencies—just made it worse,” said SEIU Local 121RN Executive Director Rosanna Mendez. “California has some of the strongest regulations to protect patients. Union Nurses fought for these laws and rules. The trouble is, there continues to be a lack of enforcement, transparency or a willingness to listen to Nurses on the front lines. AB 1422 would finally give Nurses a voice in the process that has allowed hospitals to slash staffing levels—potentially endangering patients and putting RNs’ licenses at risk.”
2019’s passage of Senate Bill 227 proved that California continues to lead the nation in patient safety. AB 1422 will also provide some necessary “deep cleaning” to ensure that hospitals don’t abuse the California Department of Public Health’s “program flexibility” waiver system that allows them to ignore Title 22’s safe staffing ratios.
Healthcare in this country is changing rapidly. The RNs of SEIU Local 121RN continue to work hard to make sure that hospital, state and federal policies and regulations keep up with this nation’s need for reliable, safe, quality care. In September, out of frustration with the lack leadership from public health agencies, we launched our own Pandemic Safety Platform. Fighting dangerous “flexibility waivers” to ensure safe staffing levels is a big part of these aims. We will continue to use our collective voice to balance out the decisions coming out of boardrooms and shareholder meetings of wildly profitable hospitals and will always strongly advocate for the highest patient safety standards.
SEIU Local 121RN represents registered nurses and other healthcare professionals in California. This member-led organization is committed to supporting optimum working conditions that allow nurses to provide quality patient care and safety.