On April 24, the Washington State House and Senate passed Substitute House Bill 1155, implementing new restrictions on hospital staffing, with most elements of the bill taking effect Jan. 1, 2020. The final bill passed after lawmakers formed a conference committee to determine the bill’s final details. SHB 1155 now awaits the governor’s signature to become law.
The bill’s final iteration removes a mandatory eight-hour cap on nurse shifts, a Senate amendment that WSHA strongly opposed. However, the bill does not exempt rural hospitals from the new staffing requirements, which could be detrimental to rural health care. Critical Access Hospitals — located in rural communities and with less than 25 beds. These hospitals will be subject to the new law July 1, 2021.
In its final form, SHB 1155 includes instances in which a break can be interrupted to address patient care needs. It prohibits mandatory on-call from being used to cover regularly scheduled shifts (as identified by hospital staffing plans), and it prohibits prescheduled on-call from being used to address regular changes in patient census or acuity, or expected increases in the number of employees not reporting for a predetermined scheduled shift. It also adds an option for rest between consecutive shifts when nurses or technicians accept overtime.
WSHA will develop an implementation plan to help Washington hospitals comply with the new law prior to Jan. 1, when most of the provisions take effect.
Stories from WSHA members on the impact of nurse staffing legislation:
Coverage from KIRO 7 News, Seattle, March 8, 2019: