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Sutter Violating State Safety Laws on Assuring Proper Competency Validation of Strike Staff, Say RNs

OAKLAND, Calif., Oct. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Sutter Health and an agency that is supplying nurses to cross picket lines are violating state law -- and jeopardizing public health -- by failing to assure that the strike nurses have legal competency validation to be working in hospitals where the regular RNs are on strike, charged the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee today.

In addition to Sutter, the violations also extend to HealthSource Global Staffing, an agency which has recruited nurses from across the U.S. to fly to California to work behind strike lines, says CNA/NNOC.

HealthSource merely asks nurses to fill out a current "competency questionnaire" that is posted on its website, without meeting the demonstrated competency requirements of California law.

"Sutter has taken strike breaking nurses directly from their luxury hotels to the bedside and assigning patients to their care without having met the requirements of state law and verified their clinical competency to provide safe patient care in the unit where they are assigned," said CNA/NNOC Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro.

"Under California hospital licensing laws and state regulations, registered nurses must have demonstrated current competency before being given or accepting direct patient care assignments," said Hedy Dumpel, RN, CNA/NNOC's chief director of nursing practice and patient advocacy.

"Lack of orientation and current demonstrated competency in many instances has resulted in the past in unsafe patient care," said Dumpel. "The state of California has recognized that and modified the law in 1996 to mandate strong and substantive regulations with respect to orientation and competency validation of registered nurses."

"This language was subsequently strengthened in California's RN-to-patient law, sponsored by CNA in 1999, which specifically requires that there be current demonstrated competency, which is not simply a self evaluation by the RN through the use of a check off list."

"Performance must be observed at the site where patient care is delivered and validated by another RN whose competency is current and already been validated. There shall be no assignments given or accepted under any circumstances until competency been validated," Dumpel said.

"CNA/NNOC today has requested that the Department of Public Health investigate the violation of long standing California law that was adopted to protect the health and safety of California patients," Dumpel said.

"Sutter is compounding the threat to patients," said DeMoro, "with its stated intention to lock out their regular RNs at five Sutter hospitals starting Friday morning." Lockouts have been announced at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center with facilities in Berkeley and Oakland, Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, San Leandro Hospital, and Sutter Solano in Vallejo.

SOURCE California Nurses Association
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