CFC Opposes AB 822 (Fletcher) – Weakens Acute Care Consumer Protections

Bill Status: AB 822 (Fletcher) failed the deadline for bills on 1/15/2010.  It is now dead.

CFC Position: Oppose.

AB 822 would establish a pilot project for as many as ten acute care hospitals to use licensed intensive care beds as step-down and medical surgical beds, creating mixed units where patients with differing levels of care are treated.

Hospitals are already permitted to change a unit’s designation from critical care to acute care and back. However the law prevents the mixing of patients in a unit. This is consistent with California’s nurse staffing ratio law, which we strongly support because it helps to assure that patients receive the attention they need from front line professionals who are not overworked to the breaking point.

The nurse staffing law sets different nurse to patient ratios for hospital units depending on the patient’s acuity. California regulators established ratios that call for more nurse-intensive staffing in critical care units as compared to acute care and step down units.

AB 822 would play havoc with this staffing system, and empower hospitals to easily downgrade a patient’s status from critical to acute as a cost saving measure. It would make enforcement more difficult, as mixed units would be impossible to classify in terms of the required staffing ratios.

CFC urges a no vote on AB 822 to insure that hospital patients receive the quality of professional care that they deserve.