NEWS
January 8, 2018

Proposed Nurse Overtime Ban Causes Hospitals And Nurses To Disagree In Ohio

Proposed Nurse Overtime Ban Causes Hospitals And Nurses To Disagree In Ohio
Angelina Walker
By: Angelina Walker Director of Nursing Content and Social Media

By Angelina Gibson, Nurse.org Staff Writer

Mandatory overtime is commonly implemented at hospitals when experiencing chronic staffing shortages. Nurses who are forced to work overtime often report feeling overworked and fatigued which may, in turn, jeopardize patient care and safety. 

That’s why Rep. Robert Sprague (R-Ohio) introduced house bill 456 to ban Ohio hospitals from requiring nurses to work mandatory overtime. 

If passed, Ohio would be the 19th state to enact policy banning employers from requiring nurses to work beyond their regularly scheduled hours. 

It is true that all hospitals experience the occasional staffing shortages. Many nurses gladly pick up overtime shifts. However, persistent requirements of overtime are “a recipe for problems,” says Sprague. 

Hospital Opposition

The Ohio Hospital Association opposes the bill due to the complexity of hospital staffing. 

They released a statement saying, the proposed bill “improperly assumes that all nurses share the same skill sets and are simply ‘interchangeable parts’ in the treatment of patients.” 

The statement continues, “hospitals must have the flexibility to respond to the dynamic state of patient needs and focus on a variety of factors when determining staffing levels, while always keeping patient safety at the core of those decisions.”

Nurse Support

Since 2015, the Ohio Nurses Association has publicly advocated for limited overtime requirements for nurses. The organization supports Sprague’s legislation. “Nurses sometimes work 12-hour shifts on successive days without lunch breaks,” said CEO Lori Chovanak

It is not unheard of for hospitals to report nurses, who refuse overtime, to their state licensing board for patient abandonment. Employers have also been known to fire nurses for refusing mandatory overtime. 

Some see mandatory overtime as merely a temporary fix to nursing shortages. A fix that fails to address the root cause of the staffing issue. 

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