Leyva Hospital Patient Safety Bill Clears Final Legislative Hurdle

SB 1288 Supported by Broad Coalition of Patient and Labor Advocates

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

SACRAMENTO – The California State Senate today approved SB 1288—a measure that will protect patient safety and reinforce nurse staffing ratio requirements—and sent this important bill to the Governor for consideration.

Authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino), SB 1288 would require the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to conduct unannounced visits to hospitals to inspect for compliance with nurse staffing ratio requirements.  The proposal empowers CDPH to enforce the nurse staffing ratios by fining hospitals that repeatedly create unsafe conditions for patient care.

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.  

“SB 1288 underscores the importance of maintaining required nurse staffing ratios at all times so that patients can remain assured that their safety remains of paramount importance while in hospital care,” Senator Leyva said. “Nurse-to-patient ratios serve one primary purpose—to protect patients—so it is vital that the state prioritize these regulations and, if and when they are repeatedly ignored, be able to fine those facilities so that they can promptly correct their potentially dangerous actions. I thank my legislative colleagues for approving SB 1288 and look forward to showing the Governor that this measure is critically needed so we can protect patients across California.”

Sponsored by SEIU California, SEIU Local 121RN and United Nurses Associations of California / Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC / UHCP) and supported by the California Commission on Aging, California Labor Federation, California Nurses Association, California Professional Firefighters, California School Nurse Organization, California Teamster Public Affairs Council, CAN Support, Congress of California Seniors, Consumers Attorneys of California, Engineers and Scientists of California, International Longshore and Warehouse Union, ILWU Local 13, 63, and 94, National Nurses United, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, San Francisco AIDS Foundation, United Hospital Association, SB 1288 will take effect on January 1, 2019 if signed into law.