Nurse shifts would be limited to 8 hours under new Washington bill

Nurse shifts would be limited to 8 hours under new Washington bill

A bill affecting all nurses in Washington state is one step closer to becoming law.

House Bill 1155 would ensure meal and rest breaks are protected and uninterrupted. Now, a new amendment limits how long they can actually work.

The amendment, introduced by State Senator Maureen Walsh, prohibits nurses and other healthcare employees from working more than 8 hours in a 24 hour period.

During Tuesday’s legislative session, Walsh said, “Well, if we have an issue with nurses getting tired, lets quit letting them do 12 hour shifts. Lets let them do 8 hour shifts like most standard shifts are. 12 hours, I know they want it, but then they come back and start talking out both sides of their mouth and telling us how tired they are, lets make them 8 hour shifts.”

Susan Stacy, Chief Nursing Officer at Providence Sacred Heart said many of the hospital’s 2,000 nurses enjoy 12 hour shifts, which equates to a 3 day work week.

“The vast majority of nurses work 12 hour shifts, like 12 hour shifts, and it works well for our patients as well,” Stacy said.

She fears some nurses will look for work in Idaho, and the hospital could have a hard time recruiting staff if the bill passes. Stacy said her biggest concern is the impact it could have on patients.

“There would be more handoffs of care because more people were involved with the care of each patient, and that’s something we like to limit.”

Washington Hospital Association President Cassie Sauer released a statement, which read in part:

“If SHB 1155 passes as amended, I am confident that hospitals will not be able to meet the care needs of their communities. Patients will suffer especially in emergencies. This would be terrible for the patients of Washington state.”

KXLY reached out to Senator Walsh’s office for a comment Thursday but did not get a response.

The bill already passed in the House and Senate, but with the added amendments, it now heads back to the house for review.

Catch up on the day’s news and look ahead to tomorrow by signing up for the Daily Local email newsletter from KXLY4. Headlines, events, and staff picks every weeknight at 8 p.m. Sign up HERE to get your news on the D.L.