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January 14, 2009 (512) 463-0300

NELSON FILES BILL TO INCREASE NURSE INPUT IN HOSPITAL STAFFING

Senator Jane Nelson Photo

(AUSTIN) -- Senator Jane Nelson of Flower Mound announced at a press conference Wednesday the filing of a bill aimed at improving workforce conditions for hospital nurses. In 2002, legislation passed that required each hospital in Texas to create a nurse staffing committee that would give input on the nurse staffing levels needed to maintain standards of health care. Senate Bill 476, filed by Nelson, would strengthen the impact of this committee, as well as put additional workplace protections for nurses into statute. Nelson said this bill is critical to addressing Texas' nursing vacancies by improving the workplace of hospital nurses and encouraging more people to become nurses. "Our nursing shortage is critical. Unless we change some things, its going to get even worse," she said. "It's not just money and pay, itís the work environment."

SB 476 would require that each hospital's nursing committee be a standing committee that is statutorily required to report directly to the hospital board, and advise administrators on staffing levels, as well as decide the level of expertise nurses must have to work in certain departments. Half the members of each committee would have to be registered nurses. The bill would also offer protection for nurses who blow the whistle against hospital abuses or malpractice and would prohibit mandatory overtime for nurses, except in cases of natural emergency.

Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's audio and video archive pages.

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