Daily Court Reporter - News Proposal would outlaw mandatory overtime for RNs
Proposal would outlaw mandatory overtime for RNs
ELISSA COLLOPY, Daily Reporter Staff Writer
A new bill introduced on December 28 aims to outlaw mandatory overtime for registered nurses as a condition of employment.
House Bill 456 would give nurses the right to refuse overtime if they fear they are too fatigued to provide safe patient care.
"The needs and safety of the patient and nurse need to be put first instead of trying to cut initial costs by using mandatory overtime to plug nurse staffing holes," said Brian Burger, president of the Ohio Nurses Association.
Overtime, a potentially dangerous practice that can jeopardize patient care, can cause fatigue with extended shifts. However, even with this possibility, it is still common place in Ohio to mandate RNs to work beyond regularly scheduled hours.
"Prioritizing safe nurse staffing benefits everyone: nurses, patients and healthcare facilities. Research points to dissatisfied patients, increased errors and higher patient readmissions when nurses are not safely staffed. Furthermore, nurse burnout increases with regular extended shifts, leading to costly nurse-turnover for heatlh care facilities," Burger continued.
"Nurses are professionals who are ethically-bound to assess their ability to care for their patients. If a nurse is too fatigued to provide the safe care his/her patient deserves, the nurse should have the right to refuse overtime without fear of discipline."
While federal law prohibits the amount of hours worked by pilots, train engineers and truck drivers because of the dangerous consequences of fatigue, there is no law currently in place to protect nurses and patients, according to a press release.
"House Bill 456 stands up for Ohio's nurses, which play a crucial and influential role in the treatment of patients," said Burger. "This bill makes patient safety the highest priority, and no one should have their nursing license or employment threatened for declining unscheduled overtime after a scheduled shift."
However, the Ohio Hospital Association reacted differently to the proposed legislation.
The association referred to the proposed bill as "overly broad" and "does not appropriately address the problem it purports to solve."
"Staffing a hospital is a complex process that continually changes based on community health and patient needs ... prohibiting overtime as presented in this proposed legislation restricts hospitals' ability to adjust to the needs of their patients," the OHA said in a statement.
"Furthermore, the legislation improperly assumes that all nurses share the same skill sets and are simply 'interchangeable parts' in the treatment of patients."
If the legislation passes, Ohio will be the 19th state to outlaw nurse mandatory overtime, according to the nurses association.
HB 456 is sponsored by Representative Robert Sprague (R-Findlay).
Date Published: January 17, 2018