Leyva Bill Improving Hospital Patient Safety Advances to Governor

SB 227 Supported by Coalition of Patient and Labor Advocates

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

SACRAMENTO – The California State Senate today passed important legislation authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) that will protect patient safety and reinforce nurse staffing ratio requirements.  Following approval by the Legislature, Senate Bill 227 now heads to the Governor for consideration.

Specifically, Senate Bill 227 empowers the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to enforce the nurse staffing ratios by fining hospitals that repeatedly create unsafe conditions for patient care.  The proposal would require CDPH to conduct unannounced visits to hospitals to inspect for compliance with nurse staffing requirements.

In 1999, Governor Gray Davis signed into law Assembly Bill 394, the nation’s first law mandating nurse-to-patient ratios in California. Regulations implementing AB 394 went into effect in 2004, which 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, enforced by CDPH, are outlined in Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations. Even though these ratios have been mandated by law for over a decade, hospitals continue to violate staffing requirements. From 2008 to 2017, there were 634 out-of-ratio deficiencies reported to CDPH.

“The purpose of SB 227 is simple: to keep patients safe,” Senator Leyva said.  “It is vitally important that hospitals maintain required nurse staffing ratios at all times.  In order to keep patients safe, the state must prioritize these regulations.  When hospitals continue to ignore nurse staffing ratios, the state should be able to fine those facilities so that they fully understand the importance of staffing their hospitals appropriately to keep patients safe.  I appreciate the support that SB 227 earned in the Legislature and look forward to Governor Newsom realizing the importance of this measure for all Californians.”

The proposal is co-sponsored by SEIU California, SEIU Local 121RN and United Nurses Associations of California / Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC / UHCP).   SB 227 is also supported by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, California Labor Federation, California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, California Professional Firefighters, California School Employees Association, California School Nurses Organization, California Teamsters Public Affairs Council, Congress of California Seniors, Consumer Attorneys of California, Engineers and Scientists of California Local 20, International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 13 and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.