PA Nurses Exec Testifies on Nursing Overtime Proposed Bill

Harrisburg, PA (PRWEB) May 1, 2005

If a law regulating overtime for nurses? This? S part of the question that was explored and too testified at a public hearing by the House Licensure yesterday morning at the Professional Committee of State Capitol. Testimony was presented by health care and related industry professionals to discuss House Bill number 957, which is sponsored by Representative George Hasay, R-117 Luzerne County.

? Time and again the working conditions were reported as the main reasons why nurses leave the bed or even the profession and why people generally do not seek to nursing as a career? Michele P. Campbell testified, MSN, RNC Executive Administrator of the PA State Nurses Association. ? Mandatory overtime and staffing ratios were named as two of the main deterrents? she said.

Campbell was the first to testify before the committee after the opening remarks and concerns presented by the project? Hasay author s. She shared the concerns of potential overtime and patient safety as well as industry statistics with the committee, noted the definition of mandatory overtime in his testimony. Closing, she shared two matches recent nursing professionals and their tribulations in the issue of overtime.

PA State Nurses supports the bill as it is, with only two proposed amendments, the first language to revise the definitions of one hour week / working day, the second request expand the project to include other health care workers


sponsored House Bill 957 this month, which is the prohibition of excessive overtime for nurses Act. Currently there are no provisions or statutes in the Commonwealth on overtime for nurses.

Highlights of some of the provisions

bills include:

a health care facility would not be able to require a nurse to work beyond 12 hours per day or more than 60 hours per week
but this limitation does not apply if an unforeseen emergency occurs, or on-call time
it would not interfere with collective bargaining agreements or negotiating contracts executed or before the effective date of acts
the Department of Labor and Industry will implement the Act and regulations and be responsible for the application and imposition of fines against offenders act.

Testimony was also presented by:

Paula Bussard, Senior VP Hospital and HealthSystem Association of PA, Candace Dewar, RN, VP & Chief Nursing Officer Susquehanna Health System, Neal Bisno secretary-treasurer of District 1199P and Elaine Oley CNA, both the Service Employees International Union, Sheri Matter, vice president of nursing and chief nursing officer, Pinnacle Health; Gilbert Gall, Uniserve Representative for Health Care in PA, Pennsylvania State Education Association, Teri Evans, RN, President, Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and other professionals; Frederic Ackler, CRNA, MS, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Association of Nurse Anesthetists,. Eronesi James, Board Member, Organization of Pennsylvania nurse leaders

The PA State Nurses Association

(PA Nurses) is a nonprofit organization representing more than 200,000 nurses practicing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. PA State Nurses Association works to advance the nursing profession through education, advocacy, practice and legislation. PA Nurses is a founder member of the American Nurses Association and is the official voice for nursing in Pennsylvania.


Presented by

Michele P. Campbell, MSN, RNC

before the

House Committee on Professional Licensure

House Bill 957

Overtime ban for excessive Nurses Act

April 28, 2005

Gannon President and Members of the Committee of the Board of Licensure thank you for calling this important hearing today and ask the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association to discuss the bill that House has 957 respect to the issue of mandatory overtime for nurses.

My name is Michele

Campbell and I was a nurse and nurse administrator for many years before taking the post of executive director of the Association of Nurses of State PA. The Pennsylvania State Nurses Association represents nearly 200,000 nurses across the Commonwealth. I went through 2-3 cycles of shortage of nurses in my career in health and I will be honest and tell you that this shortage is by far the worst I’ve seen. And even if we do an excellent job of recruiting into the profession with the projected demand for nurses in relation to the projected supply as far as the year 2020 is still dismal. There is a gap of 30% stipulated in the PA. The most compelling statistic was reflected in the 2004 Department of Health Report on the special characteristics of the nursing population in the PA. In this report, 46% of nurses surveyed said they were likely to leave the profession within 6-10 years.

Time and time again

working conditions were reported as the main reasons why nurses leave the bed or even the profession and why people generally do not seek to nursing as a career. Mandatory overtime and ratios of staff were appointed as two of the main deterrents.

The definition of mandatory overtime hours are those above the normal work week (usually 40) that the employer requires the threat of job loss or the threat of reprisals from others such as demotion or assignment to unattractive tasks or shifts or withdrawal permitted in the case of nurses. Overall in the United States, there has been an increase in overtime, usually for American workers over the past two decades. Nearly a third of the workforce regularly works more than 40-hour week of work and a fifth more than 50 hours. It was no different in health care. (Time After Time :???? mandatory overtime in the U.S. economy Briefing Paper: January 2002)

In 2002

Journal of New England of Medicine Article by Dr. Robert Steinbrook, he was referred to a survey by the Organization of American nurse leaders in which 61% of nurses reported that they observed increases in overtime or double shifts during the past year. Forty-five percent indicated that overtime work was strictly voluntary, 32% said it was voluntary, but it feels like it is required and 20% said it was necessary. In the Survey of the American Nurses Association health and safety, 67% of respondents indicated that they work some type of mandatory overtime each month or unplanned.

Overtime work in nursing, while helping to cover vacancies and sick leave for nurses, a social cost unhealthy. It is devastating not only nurses, but also their families, communities and ultimately in many cases, patients. More hours spent at work means less time with family, less time to help a child with homework, less time to play, and less time to sleep. These sacrifices can result in an increased risk of accidents and injuries, diseases, chronic fatigue, stress and related, reduced parenting and family time and reduced quality of services, a serious public concern, particularly in care of health. Management of patients with high fatigue and long hours can lead to inadequate compliance procedures and a reduction in patient monitoring. As a result, overtime may compromise patient? S of the health or safety.

In the 2004 report of the Institute of Medicine on the conduct of patient safety: Transforming the work environment of nurses, they strongly urged regulators to ban nurses to provide care to patients in any combination of scheduled shifts, mandatory overtime or voluntary overtime in excess of 12 hours for any period of 24 hours and 60 hours per 7 day period.

July / August 2004, Dr. Ann Rogers of the University of Pennsylvania published a study on the? working hours of nurses and hospital staff patient safety?. It found that the risk of making an error greatly increased when nurses worked shifts that were longer than 12 hours, or when significant overtime they worked over 40 hours per week. Overall nurses reported being unable to leave work at the end of their shift of more than 80% of the time.

(Health Affairs, Volume 23, Number 4 working hours of nurses of the hospital staff and patient safety July-August 2004)

With the current emphasis of the legislature on patient safety efforts such as the enactment of Act 13, this issue should be of great concern.

characteristics that attract people to a career in nursing are the same characteristics that do not always allow nurses to say no to the request for overtime, regardless of their state of mind, the physical or commitments, even personal or family. They stay because of their commitment to patients, peers and community. When a nurse must refuse to stay an extra team because they feel strongly about their physical or previous commitments.

Unfortunately, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 which regulates overtime, currently imposes no limits on overtime, or prevent the dismissal or other punishment for falling on work time. Legislation is needed to protect workers against health care and excessive working hours and mandatory overtime and protect the public against the dangers of labor overloaded said. Nurses should have the legal right to refuse overtime after working a certain number of hours without the fear of job loss or other sanctions.

In April 2004, ten states have enacted regulations / legislation to prohibit the use of mandatory overtime and 12 states have adopted or will be introducing legislation / regulation similar to PA.

In April 2004, the Ministry of Health released the Special Report on the characteristics of the nursing population in the PA. Registered nurses were asked to list the regular and overtime hours worked in the past two weeks and to determine if overtime was mandatory. The results indicate that 12.1% of nurses reported mandatory overtime during this period. Of this 13%, 43% were hospitalized in state institutions, 19% were employed at military installations / federal government and 13.6 were in hospitals. For 2002-2003 license period, overtime was equivalent to the total reported 4373 full-time equivalents with mandatory overtime is equivalent to 1123 full time equivalents. Also in the survey, job satisfaction was related to working conditions such as mandatory overtime.

month I get emails / phone calls for additional questions that relate to employees? right to refuse the mandate overtime. I explain to these people, according to the standards of conduct for nursing in the regulations of the State Council of Nurses, their license will not be revoked for abandoning patient if the hours are mandated to work in- beyond normal working hours. I also explain that they are employed at will, meaning that the employer may dismiss an employee for any reason or no reason, except sex, race, age or disability.

To this end, I finish today, you read two emails above:? I work as a nurse in a hospital in ________, PA. I worked here for over 30 years. I am in my 50? S and the knee was operated on 4 months ago. I was off work for eight weeks and returned to work gradually. I am now back working full time. I work on a busy medical-surgical floor and I am on my feet constantly. At the end of my shift, my knee is still swollen and I go home and ice it up. Last week, the supervisor approached me and told me I had to stay for the next shift as there was a call off and she could not? Find someone to work. My knee was swollen to twice its normal size and I told him I really could not stay. She said I had no choice as it was? My turn?. I asked him what would happen to me if I do not stay. She left me and went and made a phone call. When she returned, she told me I would have a letter of reprimand placed in my file and would be entered in the disciplinary process. I ended up staying, although I limped through the next shift and was in excruciating pain at the end of my shift .??

Another example:

? I work for an institution of the state and I was mandated to stay over my shift three times in the past three weeks. I told my supervisor I was tired and could not do that again and she said I had until they had no choice. I will resign because I can not continue at this rate. It saddens me because my patients really need me, but it has reached a point where I am no longer good for them because I’m so tired.?

Because the PA is

State Nurses Association RN? s, we support Hasay representative? s bill, but we would like to propose two amendments. The first amendment would revise the language to not require an employee to work beyond an agreement to, predetermined and regular day shift shall not exceed 80 hours in a period of two weeks against the current language of not require a nurse to work beyond 12 hours per workday or in excess of 12 hours per day or beyond 60 hours per work week. The second amendment would extend the bill to include other health care workers. When the work environment is unhealthy for all workers, it affects the whole team and therefore ultimately affects patients.

We understand the dilemma it posed for the administrators of health care facility because they may be forced to close beds or divert patients. But we have a deeper concern for the care rendered dangerous to our community. Thank you for hearing me today, I am open to all questions.

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clear = “all”

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