Patient Dies During Lockout in CA Nurses’ Strike

Cheryl Clark, 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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