Nurses Fight Back

Article excerpt

San Francisco, California

A California emergency-care dispatcher received a call from a woman seeking immediate help because she was bleeding uncontrollably. He was flabbergasted to find that the call came from the local hospital. The woman had tried in vain to summon help with her call bell. In desperation she called 911.

More tragic is the story of a thirty-four-year-old mother who suffered persistent abdominal and pelvic pain and bleeding. Her health-maintenance organization repeatedly turned down her requests for referral to a specialist. Two years later she was dead of colon cancer.

These are just two of the horror stories cited by the California Nurses Association, which is spearheading a fight against today's health-care industry. The nurses' union blames "restructuring" for the dangerous cuts in patient care that have accompanied record profits for the health-care industry.

The California Nurses Association has joined forces with Harvey Rosenfield, author of an auto-insurance reform initiative adopted in California a few years ago. Together they are circulating petitions for the Patient Protection Act of 1996. The petition needs 700,000 signatures to qualify for the November 1996 state ballot. Consumer advocate Ralph Nader has called upon Californians to support the measure, calling it "the single most important health-care battle this year."

If voted into law, the sweeping measure would guarantee patients a right to safe care and require adequate staffing for all health-care facilities. …