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Patient Dies During Lockout in CA Nurses’ Strike

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, September 26, 2011

A one-day strike involving more than 23,000 nurses at 30 California hospitals has  turned ugly with labor groups blaming the Saturday death of a cancer patient on a mistake made by a strike replacement nurse on Friday.

The hospital's regular nurses tried to return but were locked out.

The California Nurses Association said in a statement Sunday that hospital officials attributed the patient's death, which occurred early Saturday morning at Sutter Health's Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, on "a medical error made while (the patient) was under the care of a replacement nurse."

The nurse was said to have come to the hospital from another state to work during the one-day strike on Thursday, which subsequently turned into a five-day lock-out that kept the regular oncology and other nurses from returning to work on Friday, the CNA said. The CNA has asked the state Department of Public Health to investigate the incident, as well as general care policies at all Sutter hospitals.

The CNA statement quoted from an article in the Contra Costa Times, which said the out-of-state nurse committed the error "while administering a dosage of medication to a cancer patient, leading to her death early Saturday morning."

Hospitals reportedly told the CNA they imposed the lockout because they had to sign longer term contracts with nurse replacement registries.

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10 comments on "Patient Dies During Lockout in CA Nurses’ Strike"


Block RN (10/7/2011 at 4:36 PM)
The number and type of takeaways proposed by the hospital are unfair and outrageous. They are proposing elimination of all positions less than 4 days a week. There are many nurses working less than 4 or 5 days a week and their benefits are pro rated. Every nurse currently is required to work every other weekend until they have been employed for 15 years. Our previous contract allowed nurses to work every third weekend after 15 years of service and then eliminated the requirement after 20 years of service. Sutter wants every nurse, regardless of years of service, to work every other weekend. Sutter is proposing elimination of ALL sick pay, stating that SDI will kick in after the 8th day of illness. In addition they are proposing cutting back on maternity leave. They are proposing elimination of all 12 hour positions and cutting back on the hours that non-benefited nurses can work. They are proposing large cuts in hourly pay. These are just a few of the more than 72 takeaways that Sutter has offered us! It feels a bit more than trimming the fat. It appears to be more of a union busting technique as the number and type of takeaways are so over the top. Sutter Health, a not-for-profit hospital, in 2010 made a "surplus" of $878,000,000. Yes millions!! And this surplus was made by Alta Bates Summit Medical Center only, not all of the hospitals in the Sutter chain. This "surplus" was made while upholding our contract. The very same contract that we are trying to negotiate to keep now. Nothing new for us, just the same contract that still allowed the corporation to collect this huge "surplus". [Sutter executive] Pat Frey received a 43% raise and now makes at least 4 million dollars a year. Who knows how much more he will make when the figures for the 2011 "surplus" are in. Sutter donated 1 million dollars to keep the Sacramento Kings in Sacramento. This is not a corporation that seems to be in financial distress. The term CORPORATE GREED comes to my mind.

IR Nurse (9/27/2011 at 3:23 PM)
Doctors and Lawyers are compensated very nicely. Nurses unfortunately belong to Unions in order to protect themselves from corporate greed. You don't see these administrators given themselves cuts. No sir.... the buck is pass along down the line. THEY DON'T see nurses as professionals but as expendable labor force. They sing the bleeding song about compassion and pt safety and on and on when they only care about MONEY. HOW MUCH money they are going to get in bonuses and compensation. GET REAL!!!! I CAN READ BETWEEN THE LINES. DO NOT INSULT ME!!!

Al (9/27/2011 at 7:28 AM)
Advocating for patient safety by abandoning the patients under their care seems a misguided approach. The responsibility for this particular tragedy rests in hands of the nurses that walked away from their patients, forcing the hospital to seek substitute care-givers. For those hospitals that brought in nurses to care for their patients, what other options did they have besides letting the union dictate their management decisions? The nurses chose patient abandonment to stress the hospital to accept their position.