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;

Merry Doty, RN; Griev­ance Officer; Float Pool

Debbie Pronk, BSN, RN: Griev­ance Officer; PACU

Linda Snyder, BSN, RN; Member­ship Officer; OSN;

Val Artamonova, RN; Member­ship Officer; Hospice Home Care;

Melissa Hager, BSN, RN; Member­ship Officer; Oncology;

And Terri Williams, MS, RN; WSNA Nurse Rep; 206 – 575-7979x3058/Fax 206 – 575-1908