Patient death allegedly linked to California strike

Tensions surrounding the California hospital labor dispute just got even more heated, making headlines across the nation. A patient at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, Calif., died due to a replacement nurse's medical error during a hospital worker strike, officials said on Sunday. The California strike is being called the largest nurses' strike in U.S. history.

On Thursday, 23,000 nurses in California walked off the job during the one-day strike at 33 hospitals operated by Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health, and Children's Hospital Oakland, according the Associated Press. On Friday, many of them found that they were locked out of returning to Sutter hospitals, according to union representatives. The Sutter lockout is scheduled to end on Tuesday. Kaiser, on the other hand, did not lock out the striking nurses, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

On Saturday, a 66-year-old patient died after an Alta Bates Summit Medical Center replacement nurse administered a non-prescribed medication, according to the Mercury News article.

Union members at the California Nurses Association-National Nurses United blame the patient death to Sutter Health locking them out of the system's facilities, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

"I feel bad because I could have been there, and this wouldn't have happened," said nurse Alicia Torres. "I'm heartsick."

Dr. Steve O'Brien, vice president of medical affairs at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, said the patient death is not a result of the lockout, according to the article.

"This could have happened the day before the strike, the day of the strike, the day after the strike," he said.

In addition, O'Brien said that the replacement nurses are indeed fit for duty.

"Every single one of the nurses is an experienced nurse that has been working in the areas to which they are assigned," said O'Brien in an Associated Press article. "We did not skimp on any of the nurses."

Alta Bates Summit Medical Center currently is conducting an investigation and working with local, state, and federal organizations about the incident, according to a hospital press release.

For more information:
- read the Mercury News article
- read the Associated Press article
- read the San Francisco Chronicle article
- read the press release

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