P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 14, 2009
AUSTIN — Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, filed legislation today seeking to improve patient care by fostering a supportive working environment for nurses in Texas hospitals.
"When nurses face long shifts and mandatory overtime, some hospitals are losing good nurses at a time when their services are critically needed. Patients deserve the best care possible. I would not want a loved one to receive care from someone who is tired from working back-to-back overnight shifts," Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, said. "Many Texas hospitals have been working to create supportive, nurse-friendly work environments. We want to see that duplicated statewide."
SB 476 follows extensive discussions among nurses, hospitals and patient advocates and is backed by both the Texas Nurses Association and Texas Hospital Association. The bill puts into law a 2002 agency rule requiring each Texas hospital to establish a nursing staffing committee, redefines its structure and gives nurses a stronger voice in staffing decisions. Specifically, SB 476:
- Requires that patient care nurses comprise at least 50 percent of the committee's membership;
- Ensures that the committee reports directly to the hospital board;
- Requires that the committee's staffing plans are reported to the Department of State Health Services;
- Prohibits mandatory overtime policies;
- and extends whistle-blower protections to publicly employed nurses who report patient care concerns in our public hospitals, state schools, prisons or other public health care settings.
“The Texas Hospital Association appreciates the leadership of Senator Nelson in supporting our nursing professionals in the workplace," said THA general counsel Elizabeth Sjoberg, a registered nurse. "By enhancing the professionalism of nursing, empowering nurses to use proven strategies in developing staffing plans and providing hospital governing boards with nursing committee reports, this bill ensures that all hospitals implement staffing best practices.”
Said Susan Sportsman, a registered nurse and President of TNA, "TNA knows that when direct care nurses are allowed to use their own professional judgment regarding the level of care their patients need, taking into account the variables that can impact patient care, then each patient benefits. That's why TNA believes that nurse staffing committees are the best approach for determining the appropriate nurse staffing levels."