Whidbey General Hospital cited for violating staffing law

Whidbey General Hospital in Coupeville, Wash., has been cited by the Washington State Department of Health for violating a state law aimed at making sure nurses and hospitals collaborate to create nurse staffing plans that keep patients safe, according to a Whidbey News-Times report.

The enforcement action came after an investigator reviewed hospital documentation from 2013, 2014 and 2015, interviewed employees and observed hospital units.

According to the state investigator's report, the hospital failed to implement a committee to develop and monitor a staffing plan. Additionally, the CEO didn't review the plan, and staff didn't have a chance to present and discuss staffing issues.

"This omission may result in nurse staffing levels that do not support safe and effective patient care," the Department of Health report reads, according to the Whidbey News-Times.

Whidbey General Hospital spokeswoman Trish Rose told the Whidbey News-Times that the investigation related solely to the nurse staffing committee.

The hospital "was found to have missed one of the two required annual staffing committee meetings. A corrective plan was submitted and accepted by the DOH and no further action is required," Ms. Rose wrote in an email response to questions from the publication.

But a spokeswoman from the Washington State Nurses Association, which filed the complaint that lead to the state investigation and is in the midst of contract negotiations with the hospital, claimed the Department of Health findings went beyond missing one annual meeting.

"The investigator's findings clearly state that there were several lapses on the part of the hospital as regards safe nurse staffing requirements, and saying anything less is dismissive of the need to have staff nurses involved in safe staffing decisions," Ruth Schubert, a WSNA spokeswoman, said in the Whidbey News-Times report.

She added, "It is extremely important that RNs at Whidbey GeneralHospital have a functioning staffing committee so that they can speak up for the needs of their patients."

According to the Whidbey News-Times, the hospital must respond with a "plan of correction" that must be carried out within 60 days.

 

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