Lawmaker seeks to protect patients and nurses with overtime bill

Ohio Statehouse Newsroom
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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — When we are ill, getting the best healthcare from the professionals we trust with our care is outright expected, which is why it is almost shocking to learn that some organizations are forcing nurses to work overtime shifts regardless of how tired they are.

According to State Representative Robert Sprague, studies show that tired nurses are prone to making mistakes and those mistakes could lead to serious medical problems.

He wants to alleviate this potential threat to patients by eliminating the ability for organizations to force nurses to pick up extra shifts.

Sprague says, some nurses claim to have been told they would be reported to the nursing board for abandoning their patients if they refused to work an overtime shift; and he says there is a big difference between asking someone to pick up a shift and coercing them into doing so under threat of the loss of their job.

“If you’re asking somebody to work overtime that’s one thing, but if you’re forcing them by the threat of losing their job or losing their license to work at a time when they feel it’s not safe for them to be taking care of patients; that’s a recipe for a problem,” said Sprague.

The lawmaker says his legislation has the support of nurses but is experiencing some push back from organizations that employ them.

They are concerned about what will happen if they get surges of patients at times when they do not have the staff to cover the extra need for help.

Sprague says he is working with those organizations to try and address those issues as he prepares to present sponsor testimony on his bill.

With less than 12 full months to get the bill done, Sprague says it needs to get moving; and he hopes to have given his testimony by the end of February.

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