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Washington state lawmaker riles nurses by saying that some spend 'significant' time playing cards



A Washington state lawmaker has provoked the ire of nursing professionals after saying that some nurses play cards for a "significant" portion of their shifts.

State Sen. Mauren Walsh, R-Walla Walla, was debating a bill on Tuesday that would require uninterrupted meals and rest breaks for nurses and would also provide mandatory overtime protection for them.

Walsh pushed for an amendment that would exclude hospitals with fewer than 25 from the provision, arguing that such small facilities struggle to provide 24-hour care as it is.

 Sen. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla, has angered nurses by commenting in a speech that some nurses can spend much time playing cards in rural hospitals. (AP Photo / Ted S. Warren, File)

Sen. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla, has angered nurses by commenting in a speech that some nurses can spend much time playing cards in rural hospitals. (AP Photo / Ted S. Warren, File)
      

"I would like to submit to you that those (small hospital) nurses probably do get breaks," Walsh said, according to The Olympian. "They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day."

Walsh's comments were posted to the blog by the Washington State Nurses Association, receiving so many hits that the site crashed.

The ill-received comments also inspired plenty of social media mockery; the hashtags #maureenwalsh and #nursesplaycards went viral

Walsh's comments even drew a backlash from comedian Kathy Griffin who said her mother worked in a hospital for decades.

The bill specifically requires that the medics and some other staff, such as the surgical and diagnostic radiologic technologists, without giving uninterrupted meals and rest periods, except when there is an unforeseeable circumstance.

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If a rest break is interrupted before 10 complete minutes, an additional 10-minute break is required. The measure would also prohibit health care facilities from using what the nurses' association considers a legal omission to require for overtime.

Ultimately bill was passed with Walsh's amendment. It has previously passed the House without it, but both bills will have to be reconciled before it can be signed into law.

The Associated Press has contributed to this report.


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