The Service Employees International Union released a 30-page indictment of quality of care at the California hospitals of Tenet Healthcare Corp., alleging that the company doesn't staff its hospitals with enough nurses. The SEIU represents more than 5,000 nurses and other healthcare workers at six Tenet hospitals in three states. "This report illustrates that the company is also providing lousy patient care and is putting patients at risk," said Howard Berliner, author of the report and a professor of healthcare management and policy at New School University, New York. Tenet's 41 California hospitals provide fewer hours of direct patient care, spend about 30% less on labor, and make greater use of temporary and registry nurses than their competitors, Berliner said.
Tenet spokesman Harry Anderson said the report stems from a battle between the California Nurses Association and the SEIU to represent nurses and healthcare workers in the state. "We meet or exceed all relevant standards regarding patient safety and nurse staffing and have more innovative initiatives under way than any other major system in California," he said. According to Anderson, Tenet has a lower labor cost ratio "because we charge more" and its greater use of registry nurses reflects soaring patient volumes at three major hospitals at the peak of a statewide nursing crisis. -- by Mark Taylor