California regulators cited Sharp HealthCare for failing to meet required nurse-to-patient ratios at three of its San Diego hospitals during breaks and lunches, violating the most controversial aspect of the state's nurse-staffing law. The California Department of Health Services conducted surprise inspections in May at Sharp Memorial Hospital, Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital and Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women following complaints by a nurse's union just prior to contentious labor contract talks. Sharp has since filed a plan to address the problems. Two other hospitals -- Riverside County Regional Medical Center in Moreno Valley and Kindred Hospital-San Francisco Bay Area in San Leandro -- were cited by the department earlier this year for failing to meet the ratios during some shifts. In January, California became the first state to mandate specific minimum nurse-to-patient ratios at all times. Hospitals have continued to decry the "at all times" requirement, arguing that it is virtually impossible to maintain the ratios even when a nurse takes a brief lunch, bathroom or coffee break. In a statement to state inspectors, Sharp officials at Mary Birch Hospital said the unpredictability of patient flow makes it difficult to strictly maintain the ratios during breaks and lunches. -- by Laura B. Benko
Sharp HealthCare cited for nurse ratios
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