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 must 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 “process” mentioned above is the Assignment Despite Objection (ADO) form. We strongly suggest that you complete an (ADO) form regarding any staffing concerns and issues. These are utilized for real-time tracking efforts, in addition to discussing them with management at both the monthly Staffing Committee and Conference Committee.
To read more regarding other aspects of the new Staffing Law that affect you, click here.
There is also language in the Bargaining Agreement (Contract) that supports this:
19.1 Staffing. The parties agree to cooperate in an effort to insure an appropriate relationship between patient care needs and staffing levels. These shall be appropriate subjects for WGHWSNA Conference Committee consideration. A nurse questioning the level of staffing on her/his unit shall communicate this concern to her/his immediate supervisor who will utilize available management resources to attempt to resolve the situation. When appropriate, the nurse should use appropriate forms to document the situation, a copy to be given to the supervisor, and the nurse to receive a written response. Standards established by the Centers for Medicare/Medicaid and Washington State Department of Health (“DOH”) shall be considered relevant criteria for determining appropriate staffing levels.
If you have any questions, please contact one of your Local Unit Officers or your WSNA Nurse Rep.
Gwen S. Parrick, BSN, RN; Chair; firstname.lastname@example.org 360-239-3786
Kathy Cox, RN; Secretary/Treasurer; email@example.com 360-632-3718
Laura A. Black, RN; Grievance Officer; firstname.lastname@example.org 360-672-9305
Jeremy Aaron, BSN RN; Grievance Officer; email@example.com 502-525-0860
Terri Williams, MS, RN; WSNA Nurse Rep; firstname.lastname@example.org 206-575-7979 x3058 (Fax 206-575-1908)