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Mandatory Overtime, Nursing Shortages, Short Staffing

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Stop Mandatory Overtime, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. AFSCME:"After a decade of cost cutting, merger mania, and privatization, health care employers have created terrible working conditions that are driving nurses and other health care workers out of the health care industry. Those who remain are working in conditions of chronic understaffing, frequent forced overtime, no days off and lack of supervisory support. Airline crews have limits on their work hours to protect the public's safety, as do truckers. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO, is aggressively working to bring similar protections to both patients and the workers who care for them."
AFSCME Department of Research and Collective Bargaining Services
(202) 429-1215, e-mail at una@afscme.org


Mandatory Overtime, American Federation of Teachers:"Stories about the shortage of nurses and other healthcare professionals are everywhere. But in reality, there are two shortages--one caused by a declining number of new workers, the other caused by thousands of current workers who are leaving their chosen field. Surveys have shown that the exodus of registered nurses, therapists, technologists, technicians and service and maintenance workers is directly attributable to difficult working conditions, including inadequate staffing, mandatory overtime and insufficient compensation."
American Federation of Teachers
555 New Jersey Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20001


Opposition to Mandatory Overtime, Position Statements, American Nursing Association:"Summary: Shortages of available or experienced nurses have added another dimension to inadequate staffing brought about through purposeful restructuring, downsizing and substitution of unlicensed assistive personnel (UAP) for registered nurse staff in hospitals. The use of mandatory overtime as a solution to nurse staffing shortages is rampant today, and is pushing nurses beyond their capacity to work safely and to provide appropriate, quality care to patients. Nearly half of the respondents to a recent ANA staffing survey reported mandatory overtime being used to cover staffing shortages (ANA Staffing Survey, 2001). In addition, inadequate staffing is a source of nurses' job dissatisfaction, further contributing to the problem of recruitment and retention of nurses, and with the attraction of new talent to the profession."
American Nurses Association, American Nurses Foundation
8515 Georgia Avenue Suite 400 Silver Spring, MD 20910
301-628-5000 301-628-5001 (fax) 1-800-274-4ANA (4262)


Congressmen Seek Halt of Mandatory Nurse Overtime, Business Journal:"U.S. Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) and U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette (R-Ohio) are renewing their call for Congress to put a stop to mandatory overtime for nurses. "Requiring nurses to work long shifts poses a serious threat to patient health and it's crippling the nursing profession," Stark says. "We must stop these unsafe practices now. Mandatory overtime is a critical component driving the nationwide nursing shortage."


Saturday, February 21, 2004: New Jersey bans forced overtime for health care workers, CNN.com:"After a five-year battle, New Jersey now has a state law barring hospitals and nursing homes from forcing health care employees to work overtime except in emergencies. Nurses and union officials say the law, only the second in the nation, should improve patient safety and prevent mistakes that can be committed by people who have been on the job for up to 16 hours. "It's really hard when you're doing a 10-hour (day) shift to be told when you come in you may have to stay until 7:30 the next morning," said Noreen Malloy, a registered nurse at Bayonne Medical Center for 33 years."


New Washington State Prohibition On Mandatory Overtime For Nurses, Employment Law Advisory - Spring 2002:"Recent reports linking mandatory overtime to stress and fatigue-related problems in the workplace have spurred a national trend toward statutory restriction of mandatory overtime in selected industries, particularly those involving public health and safety. Washington State's new prohibition on mandatory overtime for nurses is a recent example of this emerging trend as it has been applied to the health care industry."


Mandatory Overtime, Nursing in the U.S. Military, Nurseweek.com:"Q: After working a 12-hour night shift taking care of adults and pediatrics, I was told that I could not leave because there were no replacements. I was told I would be abandoning my patients and would not be replaced until they were able to find a pediatric nurse. Is this legal? I understand the abandonment problem, but what about patient safety?
NurseWeek Publishing
6860 Santa Teresa Blvd
San Jose, CA 95119
(800) 859-2091 Fax (408) 249-3756


Two States Pass Anti-OT Law Carrie Farella, RN, MA, Nursing Spectrum:"Calling it a victory for nurses, legislators, patients, and families, the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) and the Maine State Nurses Association (MSNA) are applauding laws that prohibit mandatory overtime for nursing staff. Oregon’s Safe Nursing Care Act (HB 2800) was signed into law June 29. It calls for a two-hour limit on mandatory overtime, time enough for a hospital to seek a replacement RN. According to the law, there is a firm limit prohibiting mandatory overtime that exceeds 16 hours in a 24-hour period, although exceptions would be allowed during critical staffing shortages. Rules ensure that hospitals do not abuse mandatory overtime. “Nurses have been committed to changing state policy regarding care in hospitals,” says Susan King, ONA administrator of professional services. “This is a great vote for Oregon patients. We appreciate the tremendous support of the legislative leadership on this critical issue.”


Working to Limit Mandatory Overtime, SEIU Nurse Alliance:"Mandatory overtime has become common in our hospitals. Fortunately, nurses nationwide are working together to build support for bipartisan federal legislation, known as the Safe Nursing and Patient Care Act, that would prevent medical errors and improve patient care by limiting mandatory overtime in the nation's hospitals."
Service Employees International Union, AFL/CIO, CLC
1313 L Street NW, Washington, DC 20005
202-898-3481 (Hearing Impaired Callers Only)


Facts on Mandatory Overtime, Health Care Workers Council, United Steeworkers of America:"Why nurses care so much about the issue of mandatory overtime. Mandatory overtime contributes to poor quality patient care because fatigue which results from excessive overtime increases the likelihood of errors. According to a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Division of Biomedical and Behavioral Science, when staff plan to work additional shifts on a volunteer basis, they are more likely to get plenty of rest immediately prior to working the extended shift. However, when overtime is mandated by an employer, this occurs with little or no prior notice. The result is high levels of fatigue and increased errors."
USWA Political Action Fund
Five Gateway Center
Pittsburgh, PA 15222


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