Sen. Cortese has introduced Senate Bill 213 to create a set of rebuttable presumptions that injuries that develop or manifest in a hospital employee who provides direct patient care in an acute care hospital arose out of and in the course of the employment. 

What types of injuries does this Bill cover?  Nearly all of them including infectious diseases, cancer, musculoskeletal injury, cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, and respiratory disease which includes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma.  This bill would provide healthcare workers with the broadest range of presumed injuries for any class of group of employees, including first responders.

While the Bill notes that it is aimed at Registered Nurses, the language indicates that it applies to all healthcare workers who provide direct patient care.  Neither “health care workers” nor “direct patient care” is defined in this Bill and we can expect attempts to apply these terms as broadly as possible.  The one limiting factor is that services must be performed in an acute care hospital as defined in sections (a) and (b) of Section 1250 of the Health and Safety Code

One positive in this Bill as it currently exists is that the presumptions under this Bill are all rebuttable.  This may change as the Bill progresses.  The cancer presumption is rebuttable by evidence that the primary site of the cancer has been established and that the carcinogen to which the member has demonstrated exposure is not reasonably linked to the disabling cancer.

Two provisions of the Bill have anti-attribution clauses.  These sections hold that the musculoskeletal injury or respiratory disease that develops or manifests in a hospital employee who provides direct patient care in an acute care hospital shall not be attributed to a disease existing prior to that development or manifestation.  This eviscerates any possibly of apportionment no matter the cause.  Severe pre-existing arthritis or 40 pack a day smoker?  It would not matter under this Bill.

This Bill is a wish list for health care workers and, should it be passed and signed into law, we could expect other employee groups to push to follow suit.