70.41.410  <<  70.41.420 >>   70.41.425

Hospital staffing committee.

(1) By January 1, 2024, each hospital shall establish a hospital staffing committee, either by creating a new committee or assigning the functions of the hospital staffing committee to an existing nurse staffing committee.
(2) Hospital staffing committees must be comprised of:
(a) At least 50 percent of the voting members of the hospital staffing committee shall be nursing staff, who are nonsupervisory and nonmanagerial, currently providing direct patient care. The selection of the nursing staff shall be according to the collective bargaining representative or representatives if there is one or more at the hospital. If there is no collective bargaining representative, the members of the hospital staffing committee who are nursing staff providing direct patient care shall be selected by their peers.
(b) 50 percent of the members of the hospital staffing committee shall be determined by the hospital administration and shall include but not be limited to the chief financial officer, the chief nursing officers, and patient care unit directors or managers or their designees.
(3) Participation in the hospital staffing committee by a hospital employee shall be on scheduled work time and compensated at the appropriate rate of pay. Hospital staffing committee members shall be relieved of all other work duties during meetings of the committee. Additional staffing relief must be provided if necessary to ensure committee members are able to attend hospital staffing committee meetings.
(4) Primary responsibilities of the hospital staffing committee shall include:
(a) Development and oversight of an annual patient care unit and shift-based hospital staffing plan, based on the needs of patients, to be used as the primary component of the staffing budget. The hospital staffing committee shall use a uniform format or form, created by the department in consultation with the advisory committee established in RCW 43.70.855 and the department of labor and industries, for complying with the requirement to submit the annual staffing plan. The uniform format or form must allow for variations in service offerings, facility design, and other differences between hospitals, but must allow patients and the public to clearly understand and compare staffing plans. Hospitals may include a description of additional resources available to support unit-level patient care and a description of the hospital, including the size and type of facility. Factors to be considered in the development of the plan should include, but are not limited to:
(i) Census, including total numbers of patients on the unit on each shift and activity such as patient discharges, admissions, and transfers;
(ii) Patient acuity level, intensity of care needs, and the type of care to be delivered on each shift;
(iii) Skill mix;
(iv) Level of experience and specialty certification or training of nursing and patient care staff providing care;
(v) The need for specialized or intensive equipment;
(vi) The architecture and geography of the patient care unit, including but not limited to placement of patient rooms, treatment areas, nursing stations, medication preparation areas, and equipment;
(vii) Staffing guidelines adopted or published by national nursing professional associations, specialty nursing organizations, and other health professional organizations;
(viii) Availability of other personnel and patient care staff supporting nursing services on the unit; and
(ix) Compliance with the terms of an applicable collective bargaining agreement, if any, and relevant state and federal laws and rules, including those regarding meal and rest breaks and use of overtime and on-call shifts;
(b) Semiannual review of the staffing plan against patient need and known evidence-based staffing information, including the nursing sensitive quality indicators collected by the hospital; and
(c) Review, assessment, and response to staffing variations or complaints presented to the committee.
(5) In addition to the factors listed in subsection (4)(a) of this section, hospital finances and resources must be taken into account in the development of the hospital staffing plan.
(6)(a) The committee shall produce the hospital's annual hospital staffing plan.
(b) The committee shall propose by a 50 percent plus one vote a draft of the hospital's annual staffing plan which must be delivered to the hospital's chief executive officer or their designee by July 1, 2024, and annually thereafter.
(c) The chief executive officer or their designee must provide written feedback to the hospital staffing committee on the proposed annual staffing plan. The feedback must:
(i) Identify those elements of the proposed staffing plan the chief executive officer requests to be changed to address elements identified by the chief executive officer, including subsection (4)(a) of this section, that could cause the chief executive officer concern regarding financial feasibility, concern regarding temporary or permanent closure of units, or patient care risk; and
(ii) Provide a status report on implementation of the staffing plan including nursing sensitive quality indicators collected by the hospital, patient surveys, and recruitment and retention efforts, including the hospital's success over the previous six months in filling approved open positions for employees covered by the staffing plan.
(d) The committee must review and consider any feedback required under (c)(i) of this subsection prior to approving by a 50 percent plus one vote a revised hospital staffing plan to provide to the chief executive officer.
(e) If this revised proposed staffing plan is not adopted by the hospital, the most recent of the following remains in effect:
(i) The staffing plan that was in effect January 1, 2023; or
(ii) The staffing plan last approved by a 50 percent plus one vote of a duly constituted hospital staffing committee and adopted by the hospital, in accordance with all standards under this section.
(f) Beginning January 1, 2025, each hospital shall submit its final staffing plan to the department and thereafter on an annual basis and at any time in between that the plan is updated.
(7)(a) Beginning July 1, 2025, each hospital shall implement the staffing plan and assign nursing staff to each patient care unit in accordance with the plan except in instances of unforeseeable emergent circumstances.
(b) Each hospital shall document when a patient care unit nursing staff assignment is out of compliance with the adopted hospital staffing plan. For purposes of this subsection, out of compliance means the number of patients assigned to the nursing staff exceeds the patient care unit assignment as directed by the nurse staffing plan. The hospital must adopt written policies and procedures under this subsection no later than October 1, 2024.
(i) Each hospital must report to the department on a semiannual basis the accurate percentage of nurse staffing assignments where the assignment in a patient care unit is out of compliance with the adopted nurse staffing plan. Beginning in 2026, semiannual reports are due on July 31st and January 31st each year. The first report is due January 31, 2026, and must cover the last six months of 2025.
(ii) Beginning July 1, 2025, if a hospital is in compliance for less than 80 percent of the nurse staffing assignment in a month, the hospital must, within seven calendar days following the end of the month in which the hospital was out of compliance, report to the department regarding lack of compliance with the nurse staffing patient care unit assignments in the hospital staffing plan.
(iii) The department must develop a form or forms for the report to be made under this subsection by October 1, 2024. The form must include a checkbox for either cochair of the hospital staffing committee to indicate their belief that the validity of the report should be investigated by the department. If the checkbox on the form has been checked, the department may initiate an investigation as to the validity of the semiannual report under (b)(i) of this subsection.
(iv) This subsection (7)(b) does not apply to:
(A) Hospitals certified as critical access hospitals;
(B) Hospitals with fewer than 25 acute care licensed beds;
(C) Hospitals certified by the centers for medicare and medicaid services as sole community hospitals that are not owned or operated by a health system that owns or operates more than one acute hospital licensed under chapter 70.41 RCW; and
(D) Hospitals located on an island operating within a public hospital district in Skagit county.
(c) A nursing staff may report to the hospital staffing committee any variations where the nursing staff assignment in a patient care unit is not in accordance with the adopted staffing plan and may make a complaint to the committee based on the variations.
(d) Shift-to-shift adjustments in staffing levels required by the plan may be made by the appropriate hospital personnel overseeing patient care operations. If nursing staff on a patient care unit objects to a shift-to-shift adjustment, the nursing staff may submit the complaint to the hospital staffing committee.
(e) Hospital staffing committees shall develop a process to examine and respond to data submitted under (c) and (d) of this subsection, including the ability to determine if a specific complaint is resolved or dismissing a complaint based on unsubstantiated data. All written complaints submitted to the hospital staffing committee must be reviewed by the staffing committee, regardless of what format the complainant uses to submit the complaint.
(f) In the event of an unforeseeable emergent circumstance lasting for 15 days or more, the hospital incident command shall report within 30 days to the cochairs of the hospital staffing committee an assessment of the staffing needs arising from the unforeseeable emergent circumstance and the hospital's plan to address those identified staffing needs. Upon receipt of the report, the hospital staffing committee shall convene to develop a contingency staffing plan to address the needs arising from the unforeseeable emergent circumstance. The hospital's deviation from its staffing plan may not be in effect for more than 90 days without the review of the hospital staffing committee. Within 90 days of an initial deviation under this section the hospital must report to the department the basis for the deviation and must report to the department again once the deviation under this section is no longer in effect.
(g) A direct care registered nurse or direct care nursing assistant-certified may not be assigned by hospitals to a nursing unit or clinical area unless that nurse has first received orientation in that clinical area sufficient to provide competent care to patients in that area and has demonstrated current competence in providing care in that area. The hospital must adopt written policies and procedures under this subsection no later than July 1, 2025.
(8) Each hospital shall post, in a public area on each patient care unit, the staffing plan and the staffing schedule for that shift on that unit, as well as the relevant clinical staffing for that shift. The staffing plan and current staffing levels must also be made available to patients and visitors upon request. The hospital must also post in a public area on each patient care unit any corrective action plan relevant to that patient care unit as required under RCW 70.41.425(4).
(9) A hospital may not retaliate against or engage in any form of intimidation or otherwise take any adverse action against:
(a) An employee for performing any duties or responsibilities in connection with the hospital staffing committee; or
(b) An employee, patient, or other individual who notifies the hospital staffing committee or the hospital administration of his or her concerns on nurse staffing.
(10) This section is not intended to create unreasonable burdens on critical access hospitals under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1395i-4. Critical access hospitals may develop flexible approaches to accomplish the requirements of this section that may include but are not limited to having hospital staffing committees work by video conference, telephone, or email.
(11) By July 1, 2024, the hospital staffing committee shall file with the department a charter that must include, but is not limited to:
(a) A process for electing cochairs and their terms;
(b) Roles, responsibilities, and processes by which the hospital staffing committee functions, including which patient care staff job classes will be represented on the committee as nonvoting members, how many members will serve on the committee, processes to ensure adequate quorum and ability of committee members to attend, and processes for replacing members who do not regularly attend;
(c) Schedule for monthly meetings with more frequent meetings as needed that ensures committee members have 30 days' notice of meetings;
(d) Processes by which all staffing complaints will be reviewed, investigated, and resolved, noting the date received as well as initial, contingent, and final disposition of complaints and corrective action plan where applicable;
(e) Processes by which complaints will be resolved within 90 days of receipt, or longer with majority approval of the committee, and processes to ensure the complainant receives a letter stating the outcome of the complaint;
(f) Processes for attendance by any employee, and a labor representative if requested by the employee, who is involved in a complaint;
(g) Processes for the hospital staffing committee to conduct quarterly reviews of: Staff turnover rates including new hire turnover rates during first year of employment; anonymized aggregate exit interview data on an annual basis; and hospital plans regarding workforce development;
(h) Standards for hospital staffing committee approval of meeting documentation including meeting minutes, attendance, and actions taken;
(i) Policies for retention of meeting documentation for a minimum of three years and consistent with each hospital's document retention policies;
(j) Processes for the hospital to provide the hospital staffing committee with information regarding patient complaints involving staffing made to the hospital through the patient grievance process required under 42 C.F.R. 482.13(a)(2); and
(k) Processes for how the information from the reports required under subsection (7) of this section will be used to inform the development and semiannual review of the staffing plan.
(12) The department and the department of labor and industries must provide technical assistance to hospital staffing committees to assist with compliance with this section. Technical assistance may not be provided during an inspection, or during the time between when an investigation of a hospital has been initiated and when such investigation is resolved.


FindingsShort title2017 c 249: See notes following RCW 70.41.425.
FindingsIntent2008 c 47: See note following RCW 70.41.410.
Site Contents
Selected content listed in alphabetical order under each group