Leading Nevada RN Organization Opposes SB 362
‘Bill Would Help Hospitals, Not Patients, and Erodes Safe Staffing’
A major organization of Nevada registered nurses is calling on Nevada legislators to reject a misleading bill promoted by hospital executives that nurses say would undermine their efforts to genuinely protect patients and speak up for safer patient care conditions.
SB 362, which the nurses strongly oppose, is expected to be heard in the Nevada House Health and Human Services Committee Wednesday. The bill has already passed the Senate.
Once ostensibly intended to upgrade patient care staffing standards in Nevada hospitals, the original bill has been turned on its head at the request of some of the state’s biggest hospital corporations.
In current form SB 362 would severely restrict the ability of registered nurses to advocate for patients and safer care, says National Nurses Organizing Committee-Nevada, the Nevada affiliate of National Nurses United, the largest U.S. organization of RNs.
"For more than 30 years, I have taken my rights and obligations to advocate for my patients very seriously. SB 362 stops me from using my critical judgment as an RN and leaves my patients at the mercy of hospital administration. This legislation will hurt patients, RNs, and healthcare workers," says Melanie Sisson, an RN at St. Rose Dominican-Sienna Hospital in Henderson.
In addition to NNOC-Nevada, the bill is opposed by the Nevada State Federation of Labor/AFL-CIO and a number of rural hospitals.
SB 362 would preempt rights many Nevada RNs have won through collective bargaining agreements that establish contract protections for advocating for patients, including the right to object to unsafe patient assignments from managers more interested in budget goals than patient safety, says NNOC-Nevada.
The bill would also allow hospital officials to make unilateral changes in staffing, eliminate requirements in contracts that stipulate hospital staffing committees include direct care RNs elected by their peers, not hospital managers, and subvert other collective rights for RNs.
"Years ago, I became one of the first private sector union RNs in Nevada. I have proudly worked on virtually every RN collective bargaining agreement in the state. We have fought to get patient protections and license protections in our contracts. This legislation will destroy our collective bargaining agreements,” Sisson said.
“Nevada patients desperately need real patient reform, and safer staffing, such as minimum guaranteed nurse-to-patient ratios, the type of real patient safety legislation enacted a decade ago in California that has been proven to save thousands of patient lives,” said Sisson. “This fraudulent bill would instead set back our efforts to improve staffing while undermining our basic rights.”