P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 20, 2009
AUSTIN — The Texas House of Representatives today approved SB 476 by Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, seeking to retain hospital nurses by fostering a positive working environment. The bill returns to the Senate with minor changes before moving to the governor's desk.
"At a time when our state is in dire need of nurses, we cannot afford to lose good hospital nurses due to mandatory overtime and grueling work schedules," Senator Nelson said. "This legislation will help retain bedside nurses and ensure that they have a voice in issues such as nurse-patient ratios, work schedules and other issues affecting patient care."
SB 476 follows extensive discussions among nurses, hospitals and patient advocates and is supported 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 60 percent of the committee's membership;
- Ensures that the committee reports directly to the hospital board;
- create a toll-free hotline to inform the public about insurance available in Texas;
- Requires that the committee's staffing plans are reported to the Department of State Health Services; and
- Prohibits mandatory overtime policies.
The American Journal on Nursing estimates the annual turnover rate for hospital nurses at 13 percent. If trends continue, the federal government predicts a 30 percent vacancy rate for hospital nurses by 2020.