2017 Staffing Transparency and Accountability Act #

The Washington state legis­la­ture in 2017 passed the Patient Safety Act, which creates greater trans­parency and account­ability for nurse staffing plans and the work of nurse staffing commit­tees in hospi­tals. The bill builds on the 2008 staffing law and repre­sents a real step forward in our ongoing work to hold hospi­tals account­able for staffing so that nurses can deliver safe, high quality care to their patients.

This bill increases trans­parency of staffing plan and hospital account­ability by amending the current staffing law to:

  • Require hospi­tals to accept the staffing committee’s staffing plan or to prepare an alter­na­tive annual staffing plan that will be adopted by the hospital.
  • Require hospi­tals to submit the adopted staffing plan and subse­quent changes to the staffing plan to the Washington State Depart­ment of Health begin­ning January 1, 2019.
  • Requires hospi­tals to imple­ment the staffing plan and assign nursing personnel to each patient care unit in accor­dance with the plan begin­ning January 1, 2019.
  • Allow nurses to report and file a complaint with the staffing committee any time the nurse personnel assign­ment is not in accor­dance with the adopted staffing plan.
  • Allow nurses who may disagree with the shift-to-shift adjust­ments in staffing levels to submit a complaint to the staffing committee.
  • Require staffing commit­tees to develop a process to examine and respond to submitted complaints, and to deter­mine if a complaint is resolved or dismissed based on unsub­stan­ti­ated data.
  • Require the Washington State Depart­ment of Health to inves­ti­gate complaints with documented evidence for failure to:
    • Form or estab­lish a staffing committee.
    • Conduct a semi-annual review of a nurse staffing plan.
    • Submit a nurse staffing plan on an annual basis and any updates.
    • Follow the nursing staff personnel assign­ments as adopted by the hospital based on the complaints compiled by the staffing committee that include aggre­gate data that show a contin­uing pattern of unresolved viola­tions for a minimum 60-day contin­uous period. Excep­tions include unfore­see­able emergent circum­stances and documented reason­able efforts by hospital to obtain staffing to meet required assignments.
  • Require hospi­tals to submit a correc­tive action plan within 45 days if the Washington State Depart­ment of Health (DOH) finds a viola­tion – and, if the hospital fails to submit a correc­tive action plan or doesn’t follow its correc­tive action plan, DOH may impose a civil penalty of $100 per day until the hospital submits a correc­tive action plan, begins to follow a correc­tive action plan or takes other action agreed to by DOH.
  • Require the Washington State Depart­ment of Health to maintain public inspec­tion records of any civil penal­ties, admin­is­tra­tive actions, or license suspen­sions or revoca­tions imposed on hospitals.
  • Requires the Washington State Depart­ment of Health to submit a report to the legis­la­ture by December 31, 2020, on the number of complaints submitted, inves­ti­gated, associ­ated costs to DOH and any recom­mended changes to statute. Requires a stake­holder group including WSNA to review the report before it is submitted to the legislature.
  • This act expires on June 1, 2023.

Read the full text of the bill passed by the Legis­la­ture.


WSNA contact
Jennifer Muhm, WSNA Director of Public Affairs, jmuhm@wsna.org