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Become familiar with California nurse-staffing law
Calif. court upholds nurse-staffing law

A Sacramento Superior Court judge on Wednesday rejected arguments made by the
California Healthcare Association that challenged the state's mandated nurse-to-patient
staffing ratios.


The CHA, a Sacramento lobbying group that represents nearly 500 hospitals, sued the
state Department of Health Services Dec. 30 to stop it from enforcing the part of the new
law that requires compliance during breaks and meals.

The mandate, which went into effect Jan. 1, requires specific nurse to patient ratios to be
maintained in hospitals at all times. The numeric ratios are specific to hospital
departments. They range from 1 nurse per patient in trauma units to 1 nurse to 6 patients
in a medical/surgery unit. Some ratios get tougher between now and full implementation
of the law in 2008.

The CHA challenged the mandate saying that hospitals should not have to comply with the
law when staff takes meal or rest breaks.

However, Judge Gail Ohanesian ruled Wednesday that CHA's interpretation of the law
makes the ratios completely meaningless.

In her ruling, Ohanesian closed the loopholes for CHA saying, "the hospital must reassign
the nurse's patients to another nurse and the reassigned patients must not cause the
relieving nurse's patients to exceed the applicable ratios set forth in the regulation."
According to American City Business Journals Inc.
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