Ohio Nurses Association Applauds Passage of House Bill 144 From Committee

Ohio Nurses Association Applauds Passage of House Bill 144 From Committee

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

COLUMBUS – Ohio nurses enthusiastically applaud the passage House Bill 144 sponsored by Representative Don Manning (R-New Middletown). Once passed by the general assembly, House Bill 144 will make Ohio the 19th state to outlaw nurse mandatory overtime – a potentially dangerous practice occurring across Ohio that can jeopardize safe patient care because of nurse fatigue. The bill passed the House Commerce and Labor Committee on November 20, 2019.

“Fatigue can affect nurses’ ability to deliver optimal patient care. Research demonstrates that fatigue causes an increased risk in errors, decline in memory, reduced ability to learn, and impaired mood and communication skills. Further, scientific evidence links long working hours to many health effects, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. 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,” stated Deborah Arms, PhD, RN, President of the Ohio Nurses Association.

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.

“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. The audit found that overtime led to poor morale, increased turnover and disjointed care for patients, which ultimately leads to unnecessarily high costs. It is what nurses have been saying all along: safe nurse staffing is best for everyone’s bottom line,” continued Ochs.

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 the House Commerce and Labor Committee for passing House Bill 144. This legislation will make a true difference in the lives of Ohio’s nurses and their patients,” stated Stiers.

“I am honored to be able to move this important legislation forward. HB144 will increase patient safety, nurse safety, and lower the costs of healthcare,” stated Representative Don Manning (R-New Middletown).

House Bill 144 will now be taken to the House floor for a vote.