Dialysis Patient Safety Act passes in California Senate

The California State Senate has passed legislation that would increase regulations for chronic dialysis clinics.

Senate Bill 349 is sponsored by Senator Lara, the author of the single payer health care bill that has also gained a lot of attention.

The bill would create fixed staffing ratios. A nurse would not be able to provide direct care to more than eight patients at one time. At least one technician would need to provide direct care for every three patients. Clinics’ social workers and registered dietitians would not be assigned more than 75 patients.

Clinics would be required to have a 45 minute transition time between patients while the station is cleaned.

The Department of Public Health would be required to inspect each clinic at least once a year instead of the current five to six years.

California has 562 licensed outpatient dialysis clinics serving more than 63,000 patients

Dialysis clinics have come under scrutiny recently. DaVita, the nation’s largest dialysis provider, was criticized by John Oliver. The segment has over 4 million hits on YouTube. Oliver’s criticisms mirror what the bill is trying to address: not enough qualified staff at clinics, rushed transition times, and inadequate inspections with a misleading rating system, leading to high risks for the patient. And earlier this year, DaVita projected lower operating income while being regulated, investigated, and sued.

Supports of the bill argue that the staffing ratios will ensure patients receive adequate care and that the transition time will ensure the station is properly disinfected.

Opponents argue that the staffing ratios will reduce flexibility in care amid shortages in health care providers. Patients could potentially be turned away due because of not enough staff or appointment times.

The bill passed with a 24-15 vote. All Republicans voted no, as did two Democrats, Senators Dodd and Glazer.