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Furor Follows Patient Death in Lockout

September 27 2011

The death of a cancer patient during a labor lockout caused the California Nurses Association union to raise concerns over certification of replacement nurses. However, the California Hospital Association said the union was exploiting the tragedy to further its own agenda.

A news report from the San Francisco Chronicle said a medical error by a temporary nurse killed patient Judith Ming at the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, Calif., on Saturday. Nurses at the hospital had been locked out following a one-day strike earlier in the week.

The California Nurses Association said it had raised concerns about replacement nurses even before the incident.

“Failure to guarantee clinical competencies and not assuring proper certifications violate California law, and put patients at risk,” said Bonnie Castillo, the California Nurses Association’s legislative director, in a statement released Saturday. “We also call on the California Board of Registered Nursing to scrutinize the clinical competency and certifications of both the strike-breaking nurses and the nurse supervisors at the hospitals to see if they should retain their RN licensure.”

However, the California Hospital Association fired back.

“It is inappropriate and irresponsible for the California Nurses Association labor union to exploit this tragedy to further their union agenda,” according to a statement from the California Hospital Association released on Sunday. “This is the same union that has taken nurses away from patient bedsides more than 100 times during the past three years. It also is unfortunate that the nurses union is questioning the qualifications of other nurses providing patient care.

“When the nurses union calls a strike, hospitals cannot simply send their patients home and close the doors. Patients still need care, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The only option is for hospitals to hire temporary replacement nurses.”

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