Nurses and patients across Washington State are uniting to stand up for patient safety in the 2013 legislative session.  Three key bills will ensure a safe level of care from an alert, experienced nurse workforce, and they’re all slated for hearings on Tuesday, January 29th.  Let your delegate know or email us if you can be there to stand up for our patients.

Patient Safety Reform:  HB 1095
Right now, 250 men, women, and children die each day from preventable medical errors—as many as a plane crash every day.  We have the power to solve this problem by mandating safe staffing.

Nurses are experts on patient care.  Every time we practice in a hospital with short staffing, we’re putting our licenses and patient lives on the line.  Now nurses are raising our voices together to call for a safe minimum staffing standard to protect our patients.

Our experiences and scientific studies show that increasing nurse staffing can reduce medical errors and save lives—and money.  It’s time for us to create an industry-wide standard to make hospitals safe for all patients.

What the bill does: 

Requires the Department of Health to:

  1. With stakeholder input, adopt patient assignment limits (ratios) and recommend quality indicators;
  2. Upon receipt of a staffing complaint, conduct an audit of a hospital’s compliance with the Act and investigate complaints of violations of the Act; and
  3. Maintain, for public inspection, records of any civil penalties, administrative actions, or license suspensions or revocations imposed on hospitals for safety violations.

Rest and Meal Breaks: HB 1152

Nurses who work in hospitals often spend 12 hour shifts on their feet and due to short staffing are unable to take their rest or meal breaks.  In fact, some nurses report not finding time to use the restroom for their entire 12-hour shift.

This endangers patients who may be receiving care from nurses who are fatigued and it leads experienced nurses to leave the profession from burnout and exhaustion.

To protect patients and nurses, we must mandate that hospitals provide break times for hardworking nurses.

What the bill does:

Requires hospitals to:

  1. Provide all employees with meal and rest periods as required by law; and
  2. Record when an employee takes or misses a meal or rest period and maintain these records as required by the Department of Labor and Industries.

Safe Scheduling: HB 1153

In 2002, we recognized how mandatory overtime puts patients at risk and passed landmark legislation prohibiting mandatory overtime.  Since then, hospitals have found a loophole in the legislation where they rely on on-call nurses to fill chronic staffing shortages.

Nurses sign up for call in order to respond to unanticipated patient care emergencies, yet hospitals routinely use on-call nurses to fill in for staff on vacation, to fill long-standing staff vacancies, and to schedule surgeries at the end of nurse shifts in a way that requires they work overtime.  It increases nurse fatigue and burn-out and puts nurses at patients’ bedside who may not be alert and refreshed.

We must close this loophole to the mandatory overtime law to ensure safe scheduling.

What the bill does:

  1. Revises the definition of “employee” for purposes of mandatory overtime at health care facilities.
  2. Expands the mandatory overtime protections to include certain technical employees.
  3. Prohibits an employer, acting directly or indirectly in the interest of a health care facility, from using prescheduled on-call time to fill chronic or foreseeable staff shortages or scheduling non-emergency procedures in a way that would require overtime.

January 25th, 2013

Posted In: Nurse Alliance

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW

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