Ask any nurse and he/she will tell you: nurse fatigue is a very real component of unsafe nurse staffing, and when nurses are fatigued, patients aren’t receiving the top-level care they deserve. Research not only points to dissatisfied patients, but also increased errors and higher patient readmissions when nurses aren’t safely staffed. Prioritizing safe nurse staffing benefits everyone: hospitals, nurses and patients.
Bipartisan and companion bills, House Bill 163 and Senate Bill 129, sponsored by Representatives Cutrona and Sweeney and Senators Antonio and Schaffer, respectively, aim to make Ohio the 19th state to prohibit nurse mandatory overtime. Curtailing the use of mandatory overtime will not only help cut down on nurse fatigue, but also increase safe nurse staffing through proper nurse staffing plans that don’t rely on forced overtime to fill regular staffing gaps. Should the need for overtime arise, nurses should use their professional judgment to determine whether it is safe to continue working. Nurses should never be forced to work overtime or threatened with discipline if they voice concerns.
This is the third consecutive Ohio General Assembly to consider nurse mandatory overtime legislation. Previous bills passed the House of Representatives, but were eventually stalled in the senate. This simultaneous two-chamber approach aims to move the legislation more efficiently through the legislative process.