Washington State

House of Representatives

Office of Program Research



Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee

HB 1049

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

Brief Description: Concerning health care provider and health care facility whistleblower protections.

Sponsors: Representatives Macri, Stokesbary, Riccelli, Jinkins and Tharinger.

Brief Summary of Bill

  • Expands the definition of "whistleblower" to include a health care provider or a medical care staff at a health care facility.

  • Provides a civil remedy to nonemployee whistleblowers who have been subject to retaliatory action.

  • Establishes standards for the sanction process against medical staff.

Hearing Date: 1/15/19

Staff: Ingrid Lewis (786-7289).


Whistleblower protections, which include confidentiality and freedom from workplace reprisals, extend to consumers, employees, and health care professionals who communicate allegations of improper quality of care by a health care facility or provider to the Department of Health in good faith. Only a whistleblower who is an employee of a health care facility or provider may have recourse against retaliatory action.

Hospitals maintain a quality improvement program that includes a medical staff privileges sanction procedure through which professional conduct is reviewed as part of an evaluation of staff privileges of health care providers.

Summary of Bill:

The definition of "whistleblower" for a person who is a health care professional is amended to include a health care provider or a medical care staff at a health care facility.

Whistleblower protection is expanded to include a whistleblower who initiates in good faith any investigation or administrative proceeding about a complaint made to the Department of Health.

A nonemployee whistleblower who is subjected to reprisal or retaliatory action by a health care provider or health care facility may file a civil cause of action within two years of the retaliatory action. The nonemployee may recover damages and reasonable attorney's fees and costs, as well as enjoin further violations. A respondent may be awarded attorney's fees for unfounded and frivolous claims by a nonemployee whistleblower.

Absent the adherence to a medical staff privilege sanction process, any reduction of medical staff membership or privileges qualifies as a "reprisal or retaliatory action."

A professional peer review action taken by a health care facility must meet the federal standards for professional review actions.

Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Not requested.

Effective Date: The bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed.