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Bill To Set Rules On Dialysis Clinics Shelved For The Year

  
An estimated 66,000 Californians receive dialysis treatment. Capital Public Radio file photo. 
 
A bill that would have established strict staffing and oversight rules for dialysis clinics stalled in the California Legislature on Friday following strong opposition from the medical industry.
 

The union-backed legislation, AB 349, would have have forced clinics to have no more than eight patients per nurse. It also would have imposed a 45-minute transition period between patient appointments and required annual inspections by state health officials.

Opponents said the staffing limits would have forced some clinics to close or reduce patient appointments.

Mark Shapiro, a San Diego area kidney specialist, told Capital Public Radio the bill would have imposed arbitrary and disruptive rules on the growing industry that serves more than 60,000 patients in California.

Shapiro said the bill would “simply cripple the ability of our dialysis clinics to provide care to patients. It takes away the ability to customize dialysis care.”

Bare minimum standards?

Supporters maintain the clinics operate now with only bare minimum patient standards and should be regulated the same way as hospitals and nursing homes.

The bill’s author, State Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, said in a written statement that he’ll bring it back for consideration next year.

“I will invite industry, workers’ groups, patient groups, advocates and the administration to work together in the coming months,” Lara said, “to find common ground that protects patient safety and increases oversight.”

Ballot initiative? 

Dave Regan, the president of union supporting the bill, SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, said in a statement:

“This legislation has successfully raised awareness of the disturbing patient care problems in dialysis clinics that the industry claimed were not happening, and we are eager to have productive discussions to find solutions that improve patient care for the 66,000 Californians who need dialysis to survive.

Regan added: “If the discussions are not productive, we will ask California voters to stand up for dialysis patients through a statewide ballot initiative planned for the November 2018 election.”

 

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