OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington Senate will have an executive session on the healthcare safe staffing standards bill Thursday.
House Bill 1868 would focus on easing patient loads for healthcare workers, meaning hospitals could get fined for giving nurses/doctors too many patients to handle. The bill, sponsored by Spokane Rep. Marcus Riccelli, passed through the House with a 55-43 vote and was introduced to the Senate on Feb. 16.
Healthcare leaders say the bill won’t solve the staffing crisis. They say it will likely delay patient care and eliminate some hospital services.
“The proposed legislation is particularly challenging because the ratios must be met at all times, regardless of the time of day, how sick the patients are, or how much experience the nurses have,” said Darcy Jaffe, Senior Vice President of Safety and Quality at the Washington State Hospital Association. “Stacking a rigid one-size-fits staffing mandate on top of a national health care workforce labor shortage doesn’t make sense and will result in care delays.”
While hospital leaders worry about the bill, healthcare employees and Washington voters are optimistic.
A recent poll found 74-percent of Washington voters favored the bill, and 91-percent said they worried about employee burnout in hospitals. The Washington State Department of Health provided data showing there are 120,069 licensed nurses in the state, but only 59,300 are actively employed. Many nurses are thought to have quit because of large patient loads, especially during the pandemic.
Healthcare leaders say the bill won’t solve the healthcare staffing crisis, but Washington voters believe it will do just that. The Senate’s executive session on Thursday will play a big factor on the future of the bill.