June 12, 2007

Assembly passes mandatory nurse overtime bill

Source: NYSUT News Wire
Caption: In this file photo, NYSUT Health Care Professionals Council Chair Anne Goldman (at left), Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther and NYSUT Vice President Kathleen Donahue discuss issues in health care and nursing. Gunther, a registered nurse herself, sponsored the bill that would restrict consecutive work hours required by nurses and it protects nurses who refuse to work mandatory overtime from professional misconduct charges.

NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi praised Assembly leaders for passing a bill to end the dangerous practice of mandatory nurse overtime and called on Senate leaders to follow suit.

For years NYSUT and its nurse members have lobbied against the practice that allows hospitals to force nurses to work extra hours. Nurses must make critical decisions on patient care and treatment; the decisions are even more difficult after working a 16-hour shift, union leaders said. The practice not only affects nurses, but their patients and families as well.

"The practice of mandatory overtime for nurses is risky as it places both nurses and the patients they care for in a perpetually dangerous situation," said NYSUT Executive Vice President Alan Lubin. "This bill creates an environment in hospitals that respects the demands placed upon nurses so that they can continue to provide high-quality care to their patients."

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, D-Sullivan, a registered nurse herself, sponsored the bill that would restrict consecutive work hours required by nurses and it protects nurses who refuse to work mandatory overtime from professional misconduct charges. The bill would not affect nurses who volunteer to work overtime.

"This bill is also the first step in encouraging nurses to remain in the health care field and will serve to invite others to enter the profession," Lubin added.

The Senate has yet to pass a mandatory nurse overtime bill. Eleven states have passed similar laws or regulations.