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California dialysis centers may receive quality boost under new legislation

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Advanced dialysis equipment in hospital. (Photo courtesy Shutterstock)

A new piece of legislation was introduced by State Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) Tuesday that would improve patient care more than 550 dialysis clinics across the state. SB 349, the Dialysis Patient Safety Act, would require dialysis clinics to be inspected yearly and would increase staffing numbers for safety reasons.

Under California’s current law, dialysis clinics only need to be inspected ever six years. In contrast, nursing homes must undergo yearly inspections, and hospitals get reviewed every two years.

“Dialysis patients are grandparents, children, and siblings not numbers on a balance sheet,” said Lara. “It’s time to fix the dialysis industry and improve patient care for the more than 63,000 Californians who rely on this life-saving treatment in clinics daily.”

The hundreds of dialysis clinics in California treat a regular client base of patients, many of whom are suffering from kidney failure. A typical treatment lasts three hours and takes place three days a week for the entirety of one’s life. The Bay Area alone has 140 dialysis centers.

But clinics are having a hard time getting staffing, despite the $2.9 billion profits made in the dialysis industry each year. Workers say that staffing levels are so low they threaten patient care, and that companies are pocketing the money instead of improving conditions.

In response, dialysis workers are unionizing under SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) for safer working conditions and stronger patient protections. If passed, this new legislation would be a big step towards making those goals a reality.

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