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Bill to tighten hospital security clears California legislative panel

Los Angeles Times, 3/23/11

March 23, 2011 
By Jessica Garrison 
Los Angeles Times

Nurses association seeks new protections, citing the beating death of a hospital employee in Northern California.

A California legislative committee gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a bill that would tighten security at hospitals and increase their requirements for reporting violent acts to the state.

The bill given the nod by the Assembly Committee on Health was sponsored by Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi (D-Hayward) and the California Nurses Assn., which claims that nurses are facing an epidemic of violence in hospitals. It follows the death last October of Cynthia Palomata, a nurse who was bludgeoned at a medical facility at a jail in Martinez in Northern California.

The California Hospital Assn. opposes the proposed law. In a letter and testimony, the association warned that the law would put increased burdens on hospitals "without evidence that they will provide … benefits." Opponents say hospitals are already required to report violence against hospital employees to local police, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health and the state Department of Public Health.

But Kelly Green of the nurses association said that only serious injuries and deaths must be reported now. The proposed law would also require hospitals to report all assaults and batteries on employees and patients.

The bill will go to the Assembly appropriations committee and then to the full Assembly.

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