SEATTLE, Aug. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA),representing more than 16,000 registered nurses in Washington State, has won two landmark decisions for patient safety on the issue of missed breaks for registered nurses. Cases decided in Seattle
WSNA has been working for several years to ensure that nurses receive full, uninterrupted breaks because that dedicated time to rest is critical in preventing fatigue and fatigue-related errors. Research confirms that nurses working long hours have decreased alertness and vigilance which can lead to an increase in medical errors and compromised patient care.
"As a registered nurse, I am constantly managing critical life and death situations. I need time completely away from my work to regain my focus and alertness. Getting my breaks during a shift ensures that I can be at my best when I'm caring for my patients. Uninterrupted rest breaks are about nurse and patient safety, and now we have both a judge and arbitrator agreeing that this needs to be a priority. It's even more heartening to see that they both immediately recognized that these so-called intermittent breaks really mean no breaks at all for nurses," said WSNA President Julia Weinberg, RN.
In 2007, WSNA filed suit against Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane because nurses were being forced to work through their breaks and were not being compensated for this extra work, essentially providing a financial incentive for the hospital to have nurses work through their breaks. On August 20, 2010, the Spokane County Superior Court finalized its order stating that Sacred Heart Medical Center had violated the Washington Minimum Wage Act. Highlights of the decision include:
At the University of Washington Medical Center, WSNA filed a grievance when nurses were reporting that they were regularly working through their breaks. Highlights of the arbitration decision released on August 9, 2010 include:
"These decisions are a clear victory for patients and nurses throughout the state. The Spokane Court's decision puts every hospital in the state on notice that they cannot work nurses through their rest breaks without consequences. We are committed to ensuring that every nurse in Washington receives their full breaks and we will fight in the workplace, in the courts, and in the legislature," said Christine Himmelsbach, MN, RN, Assistant Executive Director of Labor Relations for WSNA.
Founded in 1908, WSNA is the professional organization representing more than 16,000 registered nurses in Washington State. WSNA effectively advocates for the improvement of health standards and availability of quality health care for all people; promotes high standards for the nursing profession; and advances the professional and economic development of nurses.
SOURCE Washington State Nurses Association
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