Ohio hospitals face proposed ban on mandatory overtime for nurses

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Mandatory overtime for nurses at Ohio hospitals could be a thing of the past if the state passes newly proposed legislation, according to a Springfield News-Sun report.

The legislation, House Bill 456, was introduced by Rep. Robert Sprague, R-Findlay in December. It bans Ohio hospitals from requiring a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse to work overtime to remain employed.

Mr. Sprague believes the ban on mandatory overtime could help prevent medical errors that might occur when nurses are too fatigued, according to the report.

Reactions to the proposed bill are mixed.

The Ohio Nurses Association praised the legislation, saying mandatory overtime can potentially result in nurse fatigue and burnout.

"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," Brian Burger, president of the union, said in a statement. "Prioritizing safe nurse staffing benefits everyone: nurses, patients and healthcare facilities."

However, the Ohio Hospital Association opposes the proposed bill, calling it "overly broad" legislation that "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. OHA is working with key policymakers and interested party group representatives regarding House Bill 456. Prohibiting overtime as presented in this proposed legislation restricts hospitals' ability to adjust to the needs of their patients," the OHA said in an emailed statement.

"Furthermore, the legislation improperly assumes that all nurses share the same skill sets and are simply 'interchangeable parts' in the treatment of patients. Hospitals must have the flexibility to respond to the dynamic state of patient needs and must focus on a variety of factors when determining staffing levels, while always keeping patient safety at the core of those decisions."

If the legislation passed, Ohio would be the 19th state to outlaw nurse mandatory overtime, according to the ONA.




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