California regulators cited two hospitals for failing to meet required nurse-staffing ratios and received a total of 49 complaints in the first three months the new ratios were in effect, the state Department of Health Services said. Sixty hospitals requested waivers during that time to cope with unexpectedly high patient volumes or create new triage systems. Regulators denied 29 requests, approved 23 and told eight hospitals a waiver wasn't necessary. California's 450 hospitals have been scrambling to comply with a landmark state law requiring hospitals to meet mandatory minimum nurse-to-patient ratios at all times in most units. The ratios took effect Jan. 1. Regulators approved correction plans for Riverside County Regional Medical Center in Moreno Valley and Kindred Hospital-San Francisco Bay Area in San Leandro after citing the hospitals for failing to meet ratios on some shifts. The California Healthcare Association is suing to block enforcement of the provision requiring compliance "at all times," especially objecting to enforcement during breaks and meals. A hearing on the lawsuit is set for May 14 in Sacramento County Superior Court. -- by Laura B. Benko
Few Calif. hospitals cited for nurse-ratio failures
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