H. B. 2840
(By Delegates Hatfield, Linch and Perdue)
[Introduced February 19, 1999; referred to the
Committee on Health and Human Resources then Government
A BILL to amend article five-b, chapter sixteen of the code of
West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as
amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated section
fourteen, relating to requiring certain nurse-patient ratios
in hospitals; providing for a method of reporting and
investigating occurrences of unsafe nurse-patient ratios;
and prohibiting retaliation for filing a report of an
occurrence of an unsafe nurse-patient ratio.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That article five-b, chapter sixteen of the code of West
Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be
amended by adding thereto a new section, designated section
fourteen, to read as follows:
ARTICLE 5B. HOSPITALS AND SIMILAR INSTITUTIONS.
§16-5B-14. Nurse-patient ratios for hospitals.
(a) Every hospital shall, at a minimum, maintain a ratio of
resident patients to licensed registered professional nurses of
no more than:
(1) Two patients for each licensed registered professional
nurse for critical care units;
(2) Four patients for each licensed registered professional
nurse for step-down units; and
(3) Six patients for each licensed registered professional
nurse for medical or surgical units.
(b) Every hospital shall allow a reporting form to be
readily available in all nursing units so that nursing staff may
document an occurrence of an unsafe nurse-patient ratio on her or
his unit. The person completing the form shall submit the form
to the director of health and the West Virginia nurses
association, to allow for data collection on the frequency of
unsafe nurse-patient ratio practice in the state.
(c) The director of health shall investigate any instance of
an unsafe nurse-patient ratio reported. Annually, the director
shall report to the West Virginia health care authority the
number of occurrences of unsafe nurse-patient ratios reported at
(d) No hospital may discharge or in any manner discriminate
against any person for the reason that the person has filed a
report specified in this section. Violation of this prohibition
by any hospital is grounds for the suspension or revocation of the hospital's license as provided in this article. Any type of
discriminatory treatment of a person who has submitted a
reporting form to the director, within one hundred twenty days of
the submitting of the report, raises a rebuttable presumption
that the action was taken by the hospital in retaliation for
submitting the report.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to allow registered
nurses to perform comprehensive and quality patient care for
which they are trained and to allow them the time necessary to
perform the care, from admission through discharge, by requiring
specific nurse-patient ratios for hospitals. It also provides
for a method of reporting occurrences of unsafe nurse-patient
ratios and requires the Director of Health to investigate the
This section is new; therefore, strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.