CNA: Sponsors Bill to Restrict Nurse Overtime
Arguing that tired nurses put "patients at risk" by working mandatory overtime, the California Nurses Association is sponsoring a bill that would require nurses to work overtime only during federal or state emergencies or when they volunteer for extra hours, the Sacramento Bee reports. "The nurse, not the nurse's supervisor, is the one who should decide when it's safe to continue. Nursing is physically taxing and mentally demanding. When a nurse is practically collapsing at the end of a shift, it is impossible to deliver quality, professional care," CNA President Kay McVay said. Art Sponseller, COO of the California Healthcare Association, counters that overtime is "a last resort" for hospitals, which try to bring in temporary nurses or ask nurses to volunteer for time-and-a-half or double-time pay. California has the lowest rate of nurses per 100,000 residents in the nation. With such a dire nursing shortage, nurse overtime often is the only way to provide patient care, Sponseller implied. Those who refuse overtime work could face charges of patient abandonment and lose their nursing license. In a chicken-and-the-egg argument, the CNA contends that the current nursing shortage is a result of difficult working conditions; nurses have left the field because of increased workloads and concerns for patient safety. A Board of Registered Nursing survey found that almost 70% of nurses not currently practicing are considering or planning a return to the profession. Hedy Dumpel, chief director for the CNA, said "Those nurses would come back if conditions improved." However, the same survey indicates that 90% of the state's registered nurses are already working, and the number of prospective returnees therefore is "probably small" (Fisher, 6/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.