Ritter signs bill protecting medical whistle-blowers | SummitDaily.com

Ritter signs bill protecting medical whistle-blowers

DENVER ” Calling it a good example of cooperation, Gov. Bill Ritter signed a measure Thursday that would allow nurses and other hospital workers to blow the whistle without getting fired if they believe medical safety is being compromised.

Last year, Gov. Bill Owens vetoed a similar measure, saying it could create an expensive, cumbersome and inefficient process that would draw focus away from patient safety and quality and result in expensive and unnecessary lawsuits.

Ritter said hospitals and nurses were able to find common ground.

“The common ground here (is) providing the best possible health care and consumer information to the people of Colorado, while also protecting the interests of our health care workers and our hospitals,” Ritter said.

Ritter also signed an executive order setting up a task force with 14 voting members and seven nonvoting members to study nurse staffing levels and patient care. Earlier, lawmakers killed a bill that would have set minimum staffing levels, citing concerns it would drive up costs.

Patty Stewart, a registered nurse in Aurora, said nurses are often torn between their jobs and the safety of their patients. She said the whistle-blower bill will ease some of that conflict.

She said she quit her job at a hospital recently because nurses in the intensive care unit weren’t getting the training they needed and she felt pressured to rush patient treatment.

“As nurses, patients are our priority, and we’re thrilled to work together with the governor and Colorado hospitals for the sake of patients,” she said.

Steven Summer, president of the Colorado Hospital Association, said the association with work with the task force to come up with recommendations by the end of the year on staffing levels.

FORT COLLINS ” Colorado State University President Larry Penley lashed out at Gov. Bill Ritter and other state officials on Thursday, saying CSU is getting less than its fair share of funding and may have to cut more than $5 million from its proposed budget.

“The governor is unfairly permitting substantially larger funding increases for (the University of Colorado) than for CSU,” Penley said.

Ritter’s spokesman did not immediately return a call.

Penley said CU is being allowed to increase tuition by between $941 and $1,398 per student, while CSU got permission to raise tuition by just $412 per student.

Penley also said CU is in line for a $32 million increase in the 2007-08 budget, compared with $11.4 million for CSU.

Overall, CU’s spending authority is three times larger than CSU’s but its enrollment is 1.7 times greater, he said.

“We built a budget assuming that finally this governor would treat Colorado State University equitably in comparison with CU and other state colleges and universities. But the state has not dealt fairly with CSU,” Penley said.

He said the Colorado Commission on Higher Education has given other state schools more flexibility than CSU to narrow the gap between tuition and expenses. Those schools include Adams State, Mesa State, Western State, Fort Lewis, the University of Northern Colorado and the Colorado School of Mines, he said.

“We can no longer afford to give away an education at one of the state’s top research universities at 60 percent of the cost and remain competitive or offer the high-quality education our students deserve,” Penley said.

DENVER ” The House approved and sent to the Senate on Thursday a measure that would bar home buyers from waiving their warranties that force home builders fix defects.

“This gives homeowners a fighting chance if they find out that their new home has serious problems,” said Rep. Jack Pommer, D-Boulder.

“We’re leaving in place the limits on liability that the homebuilders say they need but restoring the legal rights homeowners need to protect the huge investment they make in their house,” Pommer said.

Lawmakers said nearly all major homebuilders in Colorado use contracts that force home buyers to waive rights that are actually protected under the Construction Defect Action Reform Act.

Lawmakers said the bill (House Bill 1338) corrects the problem by prohibiting homebuilders from systematically getting homeowners to waive their rights.

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