California began public hearings on its controversial nurse-staffing law, scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, 2004. More than 300 nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers were expected to attend a seven-hour hearing today in Los Angeles. Two more hearings will follow. As proposed, hospitals would be required to staff one nurse for every six patients in medical-surgical units when the law goes into effect and one for every five patients within 12 to 18 months. Intensive-care units would have one nurse for every two patients. The California Department of Health Services could shut down hospitals that don't meet the ratios. Kathy Sackman, president of the United Nurses Association-California, said the group is concerned that some of the ratios are inadequate and would like to see ratios based on bed capacity. -- Patrick Reilly
Calif. begins public hearings on staffing law
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