Nurses raise patient safety concerns at U of Chicago Medical Center

Nurses at University of Chicago Medical Center claim the hospital is violating several laws linked to staffing and overtime, which poses a threat to patient safety.

The National Nurses United Organizing Committee/National Nurses United represents the hospital nurses, who are filing complaints with the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The nurses allege UCMC is forcing them to work mandatory overtime hours — sometimes up to six extra hours after a shift — which the clinicians say is illegal under Illinois law and contributes to patient care issues. However, UCMC told Becker's it does not have mandatory overtime for nurses and has "a grievance process for any issues with overtime" as part of a previous collective bargaining agreement with the union.

Nurses are claiming the hospital fails to follow an Illinois law requiring facilities to post a staffing plan in each unit that aligns with patient care needs. They also contend that UCMC is improperly recording workplace injuries, which prevents the facility from identifying injury trends and possible solutions.

"UCMC takes issues of nurse staffing and workplace safety very seriously and is consistently adapting and finding solutions that best serve our nurses and patients," the hospital said in a written statement to Becker's. "We are very proud that leading independent watchdog groups like Leapfrog have consistently given us an A grade in hospital safety. … This is in large part due to the exceptional work of our nurses."  

UCMC said it's been in negotiations with National Nurses United for several months to create a new labor contract for nurses.

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