Update: staffing issues

Nursing care requires continuous patient assessment, critical thinking, expert nursing judgment, advocating on behalf of our patients and educating patients and their families. These activities are the essence of nursing care and are critical factors in avoiding preventable complications, injuries and avoidable deaths. When staffing levels are too low, RNs are frequently forced to compromise the care they give to their patients. Unsafe nurse staffing is a dangerous practice that leads to medical errors, poorer patient outcomes and nursing injuries as well as burnout. Ensuring safe nurse staffing continues to be a top priority for all nurses.

In 2017, the Washington state legislature passed the Patient Safety Act, addressing this top issue of safe staffing. The bill creates greater transparency and accountability for nurse staffing plans and the work of nurse Staffing Committees in hospitals. The new bill holds hospitals more accountable for staffing in order for you to deliver safe, high quality care to their patients.

Among other amendments and additions to the law, the following three require the RNs to take part in this accountability. The law now requires the Employer to:

  • Allow a nurse to report to, 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.

The complaint process mentioned above is the Assignment Despite Objection (ADO) form. We strongly suggest that you complete an (ADO) form regarding any and all staffing concerns and issues. These are utilized for real-time tracking efforts, in addition to discussing them with management at the monthly Staffing Committee and the Conference Committee.

To read more regarding other aspects of the new Staffing Law that affect you, click here.

There is no language in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (Contract) regarding the Safe Staffing Committee, as the Employer has not agreed to place the language in the Contract when it has been negotiated. Regardless, the law has been strengthened and must be followed by the Employer.

If your unit does not have a designated RN to represent you at the monthly Staffing Committee, please let us know if you are interested in being that RN Rep. If you have any questions, please contact one of your Local Unit Officers or your WSNA Nurse Rep.

In Solidarity!

Clarise Mahler, BSN, RN, CCRN; Secretary and (Acting Chair); CCU; hapilark@gmail.com

Merry Doty, RN; Grievance Officer; Float Pool merrydoty@gmail.com

Debbie Pronk, BSN, RN: Grievance Officer; PACU dppbee@gmail.com

Linda Snyder, BSN, RN; Membership Officer; OSN; lsnyder1@eastern.edu

Val Artamonova, RN; Membership Officer; Hospice Home Care; valeriya.art@gmail.com

Melissa Hager, BSN, RN; Membership Officer; Oncology; hagermelissa62@gmail.com

And Terri Williams, MS, RN; WSNA Nurse Rep; twilliams@wsna.org 206-575-7979x3058/Fax 206-575-1908