Ohio Nurses Celebrate Passage of House Bill 144 from House

Bill addresses safe patient care, would make Ohio 19th state to outlaw mandatory overtime for nurses

COLUMBUS – – Ohio nurses applaud the passage House Bill 144, sponsored by Representative Don Manning (R-New Middletown), from the Ohio’s House of Representatives. House Bill 144 aims to make Ohio the 19th state to outlaw nurse mandatory overtime – a potentially dangerous practice occurring across Ohio that can jeopardize safe patient care.

“Mandatory overtime and the consequential fatigue is dangerous. Research demonstrates fatigue causes an increased risk in errors, decline in memory, reduced ability to learn, and impaired mood and communication skills. It’s easy to see that mandatory overtime affects nurses’ ability to deliver optimal care, and Ohio’s patients deserve better than that,” stated Deborah Arm, PhD, RN, President of the Ohio Nurses Association. “House Bill 144 would give nurses the right to refuse overtime if they feel too fatigued to continue to provide safe patient care without fear of termination or licensure sanctions,” continued Arms.

“Mandatory overtime is a practice too commonly used in Ohio because of inadequate nurse staffing. Earlier this year, Ohio’s Auditor of State, Keith Faber, submitted a letter of support for the legislation after conducting a performance audit on the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services,” stated ONA CEO, Lisa Ochs. “The audit found that adjusting nurse staffing models and scheduling practices could replace up to 40% of overtime hours and, in turn, save the state up to $1 million annually. It is what nurses have been saying all along: safe nurse staffing is what is best for patients, nurses and hospitals,” continued Ochs.

In October, State Auditor Faber submitted a letter for the legislation after finding HB 144 supports findings from a performance audit of state run hospitals. Per his letter of support, “mandated nurse overtime is one that leads to poor morale, increase turnover, disjointed care for patients, and as our performance audit indicates, unnecessary high costs. Reducing mandatory overtime as much as possible, while preserving the options for overtime is truly unusual circumstances, will not only increase the quality of care at hospitals, but make them more efficient and cost effective. I hope you join me in supporting House Bill 144.”

 

In 2011, the Joint Commission issued an alert that called for hospitals to intensify their efforts to monitor and address health care workers’ risk for fatigue caused by extended shifts. Even after this alert, it is still common place in Ohio to mandate RNs to work beyond their regularly scheduled hours. This practice is used to staff health care facilities on a regular basis and leads to nurse fatigue and burnout.

NICU nurse, Baylee Stiers, provided written testimony for House Bill 144 earlier this year. “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. As a nurse who has been victim to forced overtime, I am grateful to Ohio lawmakers for supporting this legislation. House Bill 144 will make a true difference in the lives of Ohio’s nurses and their patients,” stated Stiers.

“Nurses are a vital cornerstone of our health care system. Today’s vote by the Ohio House recognizes the critical work nurses do every day, and puts the care of patients first. I appreciate the bipartisan support for this legislation in the House, and am committed to continue fighting to make House Bill 144 the law of Ohio,” stated the bill’s sponsor, Representative Manning.

House Bill 144 will now move to committee in the Ohio Senate.

The same legislation passed the House in the last general assembly with a vote of 77-11.

 

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Molly Homan, Director of Communications

Ohio Nurses Association

614-746-9914 | mhoman@ohnurses.org