Hospital staffing committees: Purpose and scope

March 13, 2024

Washington State’s new hospital staffing law is a commitment to supporting the well-being of both hospital workforces and patients. As your hospital staffing committee (HSC) convenes and begins developing a staffing plan, it’s important to remember the purpose and scope of HSCs as outlined by RCW 70.41.420 (2023).

Purpose – The purpose of HSCs is to:

  • Develop a hospital staffing plan.
  • Guide unit-based direct care staffing practices to promote quality patient care and safety.
  • Convene direct care staff and hospital management to participate in a collaborative process regarding decisions about direct care staffing.

Scope – HSCs should address the following:

  1. Develop and oversee the annual patient care unit and shift-based hospital staffing plan for registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants and unlicensed assistive personnel who provide direct patient care based on patients’ needs.
  2. Review and evaluate staffing plan effectiveness semi-annually against patient needs and known evidence-based staffing information, including nurse-sensitive quality indicators hospitals collect.
  3. Review, assess, and respond to staffing variations, concerns or complaints presented to the committee.

The new hospital staffing law offers Washington hospitals and health care unions an opportunity to fortify and improve the staffing committee process. If your organization is looking for more information about Washington’s HSC law and implementation resources, please visit (Gena Ahlawat)


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