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Nov 05, 2004 - 09:55 AM

Terminating Patient Care

by Jerry Flanagan
It was stories of patients who died of neglect in California hospitals, like 47 year-old Dwight Lobb, that led to the state law requiring adequate nurse-to-patient ratios. But, flush with $150K from hospital giant Kaiser, Arnold has suddenly targeted these ratios for termination.

The Lobb family already knows what other California families will soon find out under Arnold's plan: hospitals become death traps when company executives look to increase profit margins by cutting back on first-responders -- the nurses. David Lobb died of internal hemorrhaging while left unattended and unmonitored for an hour and a half after complaining of severe pain and abdominal spasms. There were simply not enough nurses on duty to care for even the sickest patients.

Under the governor's plan, hospitals - like big contributor Kaiser - will be allowed to under-staff surgeries and medical procedures until 2008. For the most critical care patients in Emergency Rooms, Arnold's changes will allow hospitals so much flexibility that enforcing the rules will be all but impossible. In addition to the kind of life saving attention that only ER nurses can provide, the new rules have improved the quality of care in emergency rooms and reduced waiting times. By rolling back those gains, patients will have longer waits for care, and more patients will undoubtedly leave without getting the medical attention they need.

Apparently Arnold's adrenaline rush of special interest support during the election has made him numb to plight of patients. What the gov didn't say when he pledged to be a "governor for the people" was that hospital owners and their shareholders, not patients, were the people he meant to serve.


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