Nurses and Hospitals ‘Feud’ Over Bill Banning Mandatory Overtime for Nurses
California hospitals and nurses are "feuding" over a bill (SB 1027) that would ban mandatory overtime for nurses, the Los Angeles Times reports. The California Nurses Association has drafted legislation that would prohibit mandatory overtime shifts for nurses except in cases of public emergencies declared by government officials or "major unforeseen catastrophes." The bill, which passed the state Senate in June, has been endorsed by the state Assembly Health Committee and could go to the full Assembly for a vote later this month. The CNA states that forcing nurses to work overtime leads to "fatigue among nurses," which in turn increases potential for medical errors and decreases quality of patient care. Hospital executives, however, said that they "exhaust all other options" before ordering nurses to work overtime and that barring mandatory overtime "would remove a necessary -- though little used -- tool for making sure patients are attended to" when replacement nurses are unavailable. Jan Emerson, a spokesperson for the California Healthcare Association, a hospital trade group, added the nursing shortage has forced many hospitals to require overtime to provide care for patients. "[G]iven the serious nursing shortage that we face -- with 20% job vacancy rates across the state -- there are times when hospitals have no other choice," Emerson said. Gov. Gray Davis (D) has "not taken a public position" on the bill (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 8/22).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.