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Washington Nurses Celebrate House Bill 1155

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by Melissa Mills Melissa Mills, BSN (Member) Writer Innovator Expert

Melissa Mills has 20 years experience as a BSN and specializes in Health and Wellness Writing, Leadership.

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Did you hear that the state of Washington passed House Bill 1155? This bill places mandatory meal and rest breaks for nurses and will extend to other healthcare professionals by 2021. Discover what this bill is all about.

Washington Nurses Celebrate House Bill 1155

Nurses Celebrate

Nurses across the state of Washington celebrated last week when House Bill 1155 passed, creating new break and overtime laws for nurses and other healthcare professionals across the state. You probably first heard about the bill when video clips of Senator Maureen Walsh hit the internet that showed her opposing the legislation by making a comment that some nurses “probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day.” While her comment received tons of publicity and backlash from many nurses and nursing organizations, it wasn't enough to stop the bill from being passed.

Understanding House Bill 1155

The bill passed on April 24, 2019, and should go into effect on January 1, 2020. It currently sits with the governor, who will sign it for final approval. This legislation will implement new restrictions on hospital staffing. It removes a mandatory eight-hour cap on nurse shifts and also offers provisions that nurse’s breaks can’t be interrupted to address patient care needs. This means that nurses will receive uninterrupted meal and rest breaks, with the only exception being patient care emergencies. SHB 1155 also provides changes to the use of mandatory on-call for regularly schedule shifts and excludes pre-schedule on-call nurses from being used to cover staffing needs for reasons like census or high acuity. Finally, the bill protects nurses and other healthcare workers from not receiving rest breaks between consecutive shifts that will put them into overtime hours. While the initial changes will affect nursing staff, other healthcare workers will be included in these rules beginning in July 2021. The list of workers that will join in on the provisions of SHB 11155 includes radiology technicians, cardiovascular invasive specialists, certified nursing assistants, surgical technologists, and respiratory care practitioners.

While everyone knows Senator Walsh made a statement that was insensitive to the long hours and hard work nurses do each day, other lawmakers and hospital associations in the state agree that this bill could be detrimental to critical access hospitals. The fear is that these small, rural hospitals, who have less than 25 beds, might have difficulty complying with the newly passed regulations because of staffing constraints. However, critical access hospitals have been given additional time to comply and won’t join the law until July 1, 2021.

Washington Nurse Speaks Out in Support

The Spokesman-Review interviewed ICU nurse, Sara Rice just after the passing of the bill. Sara reported that in her 10 years as a nurse she has never worked a full week where she was able to take her allotted breaks. She went on to explain that it wasn’t a knock at her employer, but rather a cultural issue that’s prevalent to both nursing and hospitals. Rice feels that the bill is a “big win for nurses” even though lawmakers and the hospital industry remain in opposition. Rice went on to say in the interview that, “We just want patients to get quality, safe care. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need laws for that.”

Could More States Follow?

While Senator Walsh shuffles through the more than 1,700 decks of cards she received in the past week, you might be wondering how the passing of SHB 1155 could affect other states. You may have even considered how your current laws about breaks and lunches work and if your employer could meet the standards of rules like this.

If this would happen in your state, how would you feel? Do you agree that SHB 1125 a win for Washington nurses? Or could it even be a win for nurses across the country?

Let us know how you feel about the passing of this law below.

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TriciaJ has 37 years experience as a RN and specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory.

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So how does this get enforced?

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tnbutterfly is a BSN, RN and specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

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9 hours ago, TriciaJ said:

So how does this get enforced?

So far, the only thing I have found that addresses this is that "WSHA (Washington State Hospital Association) 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."

https://www.wsha.org/articles/washington-state-legislature-passes-shb-1155-sends-bill-to-governor-for-signature/

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Melissa Mills has 20 years experience as a BSN and specializes in Health and Wellness Writing, Leadership.

9 Followers; 116 Articles; 277 Posts; 22,632 Profile Views

I agree with tnbutterfly - nothing goes into depth on how it will be enforced. I assume that is up to the state. 

 

Melissa

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TriciaJ has 37 years experience as a RN and specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory.

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In other words, it won't be enforced.  Not any more than current labour laws and union contract provisions.  There'll be committees and other hoopla, but still no actual breaks being taken.  Colour me cynical.

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It is a sad day in healthcare when you even need a law like this in order to give nurses entitled break time.   It should be common sense.

 

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adventure_rn is a BSN and specializes in NICU, PICU.

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When I worked in WA, most of this was already written into our union contracts, and we'd still have to sue every few years as part of a class action lawsuit to ensure it was actually enforced (or at least to get back-pay for missed lunches and breaks).

I would like to hear more about how this would affect critical access hospitals. It sounds like they were supposedly at the root of Sen Walsh's comments. Why would putting worker protections in place put a strain on nursing? Would they have to hire more staff?

In all fairness, I have seen legislation and union contracts intended to 'protect' nurses actually screw them over in practice; I wrote a response post last year about a WA state law that nurses couldn't 'break one another out' and cover their patient load during lunch (which was meant as a protection but was terrible in practice). I'd be curious to know if this could actually negatively affect nurses in critical access hospitals in some way that I'm not understanding.

Edited by adventure_rn

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A large part of this problem is that is it difficult for nurses to define their practice.  We keep allowing people that have NO idea what nursing is to define who and what we are and are not.

The Senator was only restating what she has heard or what she thinks she knows. She also does not understand the ramifications of what she is saying. I have a few articles for her to read. The cavities that if she doesn't want to read them she won't and she will keep making the misinformed decisions that she made when she spoke. 

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A large part of this problem is that is it difficult for nurses to define their practice.  We keep allowing people that have NO idea what nursing is to define who and what we are and are not.

The Senator was only restating what she has heard or what she thinks she knows. She also does not understand the ramifications of what she is saying. I have a few articles for her to read. The cavities that if she doesn't want to read them she won't and she will keep making the misinformed decisions that she made when she spoke. 

If a nurse does not have the appropriate nursing theory as part of their education they will not know the difference between nursing and medical professions. Nurses are collaborators with the medical profession but we are a separate profession. 

When a nurse charts how do they chart? If the nurse charts on an EMR or some call it EHR but it is still reflecting the medical format. The document that the nurse signed off on is NOT reflecting nursing care it is reflecting medical care given by a nurse. This is one of the many reasons that we are still part of the room charge. 

A nurse does not chart on a SOAP note at least not accurately. A Nurse charts using a nursing diagnosis and with the nursing process.  That is part of what has been removed from our nursing education. Nurses are missing nursing education, instead, we are being trained to be a handmaiden to the physician or whomever else is functioning in the medical practitioners' shadow.

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Or better yet, become a Nurse Coach(r). Nurses can take the Nurse Coach exam administered by the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation and become a Nurse Coach.  Have a look at AHNCC.org to learn the criteria that you need to follow to qualify for the board exam.

Nurse Coach is a protected title just as an RN or an APRN is a protected title. 

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I believe what the senator said is that it would be a financial problem for the hospitals. But that was also debunked by an article elsewhere that the critical access hospitals in WA were doing very well financially.

I don't understand why 1) we would need a union to protect ... isn't it just human decency to allow people to have their lunch uninterrupted and to have rest brakes?

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We need this in NY with Long Term care! Now if the government could work on safe staffing ratios, that would be AWESOME! 

 

Congratulations to the nurses of WA! Fantastic victory.

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