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February 21, 2017
New Bill Would Protect Hospital Patient Safety
by Preventing Retaliation Against Whistleblower Nurses
SACRAMENTO, CA - Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez (D-Pomona) introduced AB 1102, a bill sponsored by SEIU California that would protect patient safety by prohibiting an employer from retaliating against a nurse who refuses to put patient safety and their RN license at risk by accepting an assignment which violates nurse staffing ratios.
“With all the uncertainty around healthcare in the United States right now, there are steps we can take in California to ensure that patients receive the safest care possible,” Rodriguez said. “Patient safety in California should not be compromised in order for healthcare facilities to maintain increasing profits.”
Existing law mandates specific nurse-to-patient ratios to follow at general acute care hospitals and other healthcare facilities. However, since California’s landmark nurse staffing laws were enacted in 1999 and regulations were developed by the state Department of Public Health, employers have consistently found ways to get around the law. It has now become common practice for nurses to be asked to accept numerous assignments that violate the nurse staffing laws.
AB 1102 will empower nurses to speak up for the safety of the patient when such violations occur, without fearing retaliation from the hospitals.
“We are proud to sponsor AB 1102,” said Gayle Batiste, President of SEIU 121RN and an operating room registered nurse at Northridge Hospital Medical Center. “As nurses, our No. 1 priority is patient safety. This legislation will take nurses out of the position of having to choose between the safety of patients and losing their job if they refuse an assignment that violates California law.”
Assemblymember Rodriguez agreed, saying, “As an EMT for more than 32 years, I have seen first-hand the need for safe nurse staffing levels and the improvements to patient care they bring.”
Service Employees International Union, Local 121RN represents more than 8500 registered nurses and professionals at 24 hospitals in Los Angeles and surrounding counties. This member-led organization is committed to the professional practice and day-to-day needs of Southern California registered nurses, as well as promoting the safe care of patients. www.seiu121rn.org