A Washington state senator is being criticized after saying nurses should be exempt from uninterrupted meal breaks and mandatory overtime protection because they "probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day." Maureen Walsh, a Republican, was arguing for an amendment that would exclude small hospitals from a bill that would require nurses to have the breaks.
Walsh said nurses at small hospitals "probably do get breaks. They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day."
Walsh's comments were made Tuesday on the Senate floor, but they went viral Friday after Washington State Nurses Association posted a blog post about it. There were so many readers on the site that the blog temporarily crashed on Friday, according to the Spokane-Review.
The bill, which is supported by nurses' unions, passed the Senate with the amendment excluding small hospitals. The Washington State Nurses Association opposes the amendment, saying that medical errors can be caused by fatigue, which could be addressed by rest breaks.
The bill had previously passed the House without the amendment.
The Washington State Nurses Association called Walsh's comments "incredibly disrespectful and patronizing" in a blog post.
"No, senator, nurses are not sitting around playing cards," the nurses' association wrote. "They are taking care of your neighbors, your family, your community."
Nurses around the country tweeted about Walsh's comments, with some including pictures of a typical day for a nurse and the hashtag #nursesdontplaycards.