Leyva Bill Protecting Hospital Patients Signed Into Law

SB 227 Empowers CDPH to Enforce Nurse Staffing Ratio Requirements

Sunday, October 13, 2019

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 227, a bill by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) to protect patient safety and reinforce nurse staffing ratio requirements in California.

Specifically, SB 227 will 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.

“I appreciate the Governor’s signature of SB 227, which ensures that hospitals prioritize the safety of patients by following the nurse-to-patient staffing ratios already required by law.  The state will now have a stronger mechanism to fine hospitals that repeatedly ignore nurse staffing ratios,” Senator Leyva said.  “Once SB 227 takes effect, CDPH will have another tool to hold hospitals accountable for violating nurse staffing ratios, which will require facilities to promptly correct their potentially dangerous actions and not further jeopardize the safety of patients.”

After Governor Gray Davis signed into law Assembly Bill 394—the nation’s first law mandating nurse-to-patient staffing ratios—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 634 out-of-ratio deficiencies reported to CDPH.

SB 227 was jointly sponsored by SEIU California, SEIU Local 121RN and United Nurses Associations of California / Union of Health Care Professionals.  The measure was 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 San Francisco AIDS Foundation.