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Barrage of lawsuits "huge wake-up call" for nonprofit hospitals

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NRSKarenRN has 43 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion.

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barrage of lawsuits "huge wake-up call" for nonprofit hospitals

the hospital industry, already facing criticism on several fronts, has a new concern: a flurry of lawsuits against non-profit facilities by high-profile law firms. since june, the firms have filed 31 lawsuits in federal court that target nearly 300 facilities, alleging they act more like for-profit entities than tax-exempt charities.

usa today, july 19, 2004

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Havin' A Party! has 10 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in ICU, CM, Geriatrics, Management.

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Thanks, K!

Saw one of the principal attorneys spearheading this effort on a talk show last month. Seemed reasonable.

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The American Hospital Association (AHA) is against lawsuits.

Then why did their California group sue the state Department of Health Services?

http://www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20040719/6375563s.htm

The hospitals, through their trade group, the American Hospital Association, say the lawsuits are baseless and will be fought. ''Our concern is they will divert focus away from the real issue of how we're going to care for the uninsured in this country,'' says AHA spokeswoman Alicia Mitchell. ''The lawsuits will consume already limited health resources.''

http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20040527/news_1b27ratios.html

Challenge to nursing ratio law tossed out

Industry group contends measure may hurt patients

By Leslie Berestein

STAFF WRITER

May 27, 2004

A hospital industry challenge to a law that mandates nurse-to-patient ratios in California hospitals was thrown out yesterday by a Sacramento judge.

The law, which took effect in January, mandates that hospitals have a set number of nurses per patient on duty in all units at all times. The lawsuit, filed by the California Healthcare Association, a hospital industry trade group, sought to reinterpret the "at all times" clause to exclude periods when nurses were on break or otherwise away from their stations.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Gail Ohanesian upheld the law as it stands, writing in her ruling that "staff ratios would be meaningless if not applied to break periods."

Her decision was applauded by proponents of the ratio requirements, who had argued that doing away with the "at all times" provision would essentially gut the law.

The California Nurses Association, a union representing 56,000 registered nurses, said it hoped the judge's decision would put an end to a long battle over the ratio requirements.

The hospital industry filed its lawsuit against the California Department of Health Services, the nurses' association and the Service Employees International Union, which also represents nurses. The suit was filed Dec. 30, two days before the ratios went into effect.

"I think that the hospital industry would have to be embarrassed to pursue this any further," said Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of the nurses' association. "They tried this backdoor approach to essentially vacate the ratios. Essentially, they have lost in every venue."

The hospital industry isn't necessarily seeing the ruling as the end. Jan Emerson, a spokeswoman for the California Healthcare Association, said the industry would consider all options, including a possible appeal.

Emerson said having to reassign a patient to another nurse while a nurse takes a break "will jeopardize continuity of care to patients," and that hospitals without enough nurses to go around would have to resort to measures such as closing beds and delaying surgeries.

"We don't think that is in the best interest of patients," she said.

The hospital industry has also complained about the mandate's price tag, estimating it could cost California hospitals $422 million in additional staffing just for this year.

The judge, however, did not see merit in the hospital industry's arguments, including the argument of how patient care might be affected if hospitals are not permitted to allow nurses with a patient load to cover for others who are temporarily absent from their unit.

"This argument is really an attack on the ratios themselves," Ohanesian wrote.

Leslie Berestein: (619) 293-1542; leslie.berestein@uniontrib.com

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So they have to bring in extra people to cover lunches and those little 15 minute break periods? Who is going to cover for the people who are pulled to cover for you?

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There are either a free charge nurse, a manager, or an extra nurse who can admit patients later. Often nurses don't take the 15 minute break at all. The 30 minute lunch and times when a nurse must accompany a patient for tests such as MRI are the major issues.

The idea is that every patient needs a nurse present, available, and responsible at all times. Patients are hospitalized for nursing care.

A nurse with his or her own assignment covering cannot do this. Hospitals need to staff enough nurses to care for patients at all times. They don't get well if I go eat. Or even go to an empty unit and visit ALLNURSES.COM for 1/2 hour out of 12 1/2 hours. No replacement and I don't take a break. I may eat a bite while charting but will not leave my patients without a nurse.

Emerson said having to reassign a patient to another nurse while a nurse takes a break "will jeopardize continuity of care to patients,"

Huh? Won't having NO NURSE assigned jeopardize care?

This has been the law in ICU since 1976. Now the patients in med/surge, telemetry, and step down are as sick as those we cared for in the ICU then.

The law is the law. The hospital association mentions MONEY but spent a lot on their lawsuit.

Guess how many patients they officially recommended to the state that an RN assisted by an LVN should care for?

TWENTY!

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