Senator Nelson Files Legislation To Protect Patient Safety

February 28, 2013

Senator Jane Nelson filed two pieces of legislation today to increase patient safety in hospitals and psychiatric facilities, as well as bills to protect property rights and aid victims of domestic violence.

Psychiatric Patient Protection: SB 944 prohibits mental health wards in hospitals from hiring non-licensed employees, such as psychiatric technicians, food workers and others who have committed serious crimes. "Psychiatric patients enter our health care facilities in an extremely vulnerable state. We have a responsibility to ensure that their direct care providers are properly vetted to protect our patients from those with a history of violence or abuse."

Hospital Name Badges: SB 945 requires all clinical staff, clinical trainees, medical students, interns, and resident physicians of a hospital to wear badges with photo identification and clearly stating their names, their departments, and their job or trainee titles to better help patients identify their caregivers and understand the level of training the caregiver has received. "When a person enters a hospital, oftentimes sick, scared or disoriented, they are vulnerable and deserve clear information about who is caring for them."

Lease Termination: SB 946 would allow victims of stalking and other domestic violence crimes to terminate their lease agreements under certain circumstances. "We have been working through the years to make it easier for victims to escape from dangerous situations, the idea being that an individual should not have to choose between their safety and the devastating financial and credit impact of breaking a lease agreement. This bill expands the list of victims who are eligible for early lease termination to include individuals who are being stalked."

Adverse Possession: SB 947 affirms that adverse possession claims on property do not grant any ownership rights to that property after numerous reports of "squatters" throughout North Texas claiming foreclosed or abandoned homes. "This legislation address the problems several North Texas communities have experienced with transients moving into foreclosed homes in their neighborhood with the goal of taking over possession of the property under an archaic adverse possession law. This bill simply states what a reasonable person would expect – that property does not convey simply by squatting."

Legislators may continue to file bills until the bill filing deadline on March 8, 2013. To search legislation, visit the Texas Legislature online at

EDITOR'S NOTE: All quotes in the capsules above are attributable to Senator Nelson.