Safe staffing is a crucial component of patient safety, but mandating inflexible nurse staffing ratios or stringent meal and rest break requirements does not improve patient care or outcomes. Staffing ratios, also called patient assignment limits or minimum staffing standards, are mandated only in California and data does not demonstrate improved patient care.
HB 1714 directs the Department of Health to establish staffing ratios for hospitals. It also makes changes to the nurse staffing committee requirements and requires hospitals to submit nurse staffing information to the Department. The bill also gives the Department substantial fining authority if ratios are not met.
HB 1715 requires meal and rest breaks be uninterrupted and prohibits health care facilities from using prescheduled on-call.
Washington hospitals need the flexibility to staff according to patient care needs. WSHA opposes these bills and will lobby hard to preserve hospital flexibility when it comes to staffing issues. (Ian Corbridge)