Dialysis Patient Safety Act S.B. (Senate Bill) 349 has cleared a major hurdle after being approved by the California State Senate on a 24-15 vote. The bill, which is expected to serve as a prototype for similar legislation across the country, would create major changes including mandating staff to patient ratios in Dialysis Clinics. Now the State Assembly’s Health Committee is the first to review the bill and expected to take action in short time.
The latest version of the bill - introduced by Ricardo Lara (D) Desert Gardens - has gone through some changes which include adding a new 1 to 75 patient to staff ratio for Renal (Kidney) Dietitians. The bill already had ratios of 1 to 8 patients for Dialysis Nurses; 1 to 3 patients for Patient Care Technicians, and 1 to 75 for Dialysis Social Workers. Only one other state, Texas, mandates a staffing ratio for Renal Dietitians.
Also, the amended Dialysis Patient Safety Act removed the entire Article 5, “Suspension, Revocation, and Penalties,” language from the bill that would create a schedule of penalties for Dialysis Clinics and Clinic Managers who didn’t comply with the regulations. However, the revisions do give the Department of Health (DOH) much wider discretion on specific penalties for Dialysis Facilities who do not meet the designated ratios.
Sean Wherley (Head of media relations for United Healthcare Workers West) who supports the bill, said the changes to the penalties “mean the regulation of Dialysis Clinics in California will be brought in line with how hospitals and other health facilities are regulated." While most patients support the S.B. 349, some conducting Dialysis are concerned that the initiative may go too far and jeopardize treatment times as well as limit the availability of Nocturnal Dialysis.
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