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Governor Announces New Nurse To Patient Ratios

Governor Davis has announced new nurse to patient ratios that would make California the first state in the nation to set minimum nurse staffing levels.

Under the proposal, every four patients put through triage in an emergency room will be assured at least one nurse. The California Nurses Association says the ratio currently averages between one-to-six and one-to-eight.

In general medical and surgical wards, there will eventually be a minimum of one nurse for every five patients. Nurses say the requirements will improve patient care. But the hospital industry says the new rules will be a financial burden and could actually hurt patient care because of a severe nurse shortage in the state.

The new rules still must go through a normal regulatory review process.