Assembly Health Committee Passes Leyva Bill Improving Hospital Patient Safety

SB 1288 Ensures Hospitals Follow Nurse-to-Patient Ratio Regulations

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

SACRAMENTO – After hearing powerful testimony from nurses and other patient advocates, the Assembly Health Committee today approved legislation authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) that will protect patient safety and reinforce nurse staffing ratio requirements.

Sponsored jointly by SEIU California, SEIU Local 121RN and United Nurses Associations of California / Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC / UHCP), Senate Bill 1288 would enhance hospital patient safety by requiring the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to conduct unannounced visits to hospitals to inspect for compliance with nurse staffing requirements.  By empowering CDPH to fine hospitals that repeatedly create unsafe conditions for patient care, California would underscore the importance of maintaining required nurse staffing ratios at all times.

After Governor Gray Davis signed into law Assembly Bill 394—the nation’s first law mandating nurse-to-patient ratios in California—in 1999, regulations implementing the requirements went into effect in 2004. The regulations set the minimum ratio of nurses to patient by unit, including one-to-one in operating rooms and one-to-five in general medical-surgical units. These ratios are outlined in Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations and are enforced by CDPH.  Despite the mandated ratios, hospitals repeatedly violate staffing requirements. From 2008 to 2017, there were 632 out-of-ratio deficiencies reported to CDPH.  

“When hospitals do not follow mandated nurse staffing ratios, the health and safety of patients can be compromised,” Senator Leyva said.  “SB 1288 will empower nurses to properly care for their patients by requiring that hospitals actually meet existing staffing ratio requirements.  I appreciate the support of the Assembly Health Committee members today as we continue to fight to protect patients across California.”

Supported by the California Labor Federation, California Nurses Association, California Professional Firefighters, California School Nurses Organization, California Teamsters Public Affairs Council, Consumer Attorneys of California, Engineers and Scientists of California, International Longshore and Warehouse Union, International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 13, 63, and 94, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, the Assembly Appropriations Committee will next consider SB 1288 later this summer.