California judge rules in favor of providers regarding the language in staffing ratio law

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A California judge sided with the California Healthcare Association Wednesday in a suit the association brought against the state Department of Health Services in December over the nurse-staff requirements law in hospitals.

The association challenged the "at all times" requirement in the language. The suit contended that the language would require ratios to be met even when a nurse takes a brief lunch, bathroom or coffee break and, if taken literally, could "result in virtually all nursing units in the state failing to comply."

Superior Court Judge Gail Ohanesian ruled in a 12-page decision that the regulations clearly state that a nurse who is away from his or her assigned floor would not be counted for purposes of compliance.

The California Nurses Association called the ruling "a huge victory" that would "boost the efforts of RNs in several dozen other states who are pursuing similar ratio laws."