Nurses Asking for Breaks During 12-Hour Shifts

Truck drivers have mandatory rest periods for safety reasons.  If a state lawmaker from Spokane gets his way, so will nurses. Dan Frizzell has more.

Twelve-hour shifts for hospital nurses are common; they’re popular with hospitals and with most nurses as well.  But the downside is the possibility – some would say probability – that most of those 12 hours will find nurses on their feet, with few if any chances to catch their breath, enjoy a regular mealtime, and recharge their batteries.  It’s a dangerous situation for patients and nurses alike, and it will change if a bill now being worked in Olympia becomes law.  The gist of the bill is that, with some reasonable exceptions for emergency situations, hospitals would be required to provide predictable rest periods and meal breaks for nurses and a variety of other staffers – medical caregivers who currently have no idea when, or if, they’re going to have a break. Representative Marcus Riccelli, a Democrat from Spokane, sponsored the bill.

“This is about worker fairness, but it’s also about ensuring patients have safety. We need to know that nurses are getting the breaks they need, the rest.  So this is something that we need to do to make sure that we’re safe, that we’re treating our workers fairly, and that when we show up, we’re going to get the health care that we all want.” 

Now that Riccelli’s bill has cleared the House, it’ll be taken up in the Senate, which has until April 23 to OK it and send it to the governor for his signature.  In Olympia, I’m Dan Frizzell.