Nurses Hold State House Press Conference (Nov. 1) on New Law to Ban Mandatory Overtime for Nurses
New Measure Prohibits Hospitals from the Dangerous Practice of Forcing Nurses to Work Excessive Hours As an Alternative to Providing Safe Staffing Levels
Legislators Passed the Law as Part of Cost Containment Bill Last Summer to Prevent Hospitals from Cutting Costs by Cutting Patients’ Access to Appropriate Nursing Care
When: Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 at 11 a.m.
What: Representatives from the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United, along with State Representative Denise Garlick, RN (D-Needham) will hold a press conference at the State House on Thursday, Nov. 1, to brief reporters on a new law to ban the dangerous practice of mandatory overtime as an alternative to providing safe registered nurse staffing levels in the state’s acute care hospitals. The new law goes into effect on Monday, Nov. 5.
On August 6, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law a health care payment reform bill that includes a ban on mandatory overtime proposed by the MNA/NNU. This measure will protect patients and save money by preventing medical errors and complications resulting from RNs being forced to work excessive hours. Under this law, a hospital could not, except in the case of an emergency, require a nurse to work beyond their scheduled shift, and no nurse would be required to work more than 12 hours in a 24 hour period. Hospitals who assign a mandatory overtime shift are required to report those incidents to the Department of Public Health, along with the justification for its use. Any nurse can refuse overtime without fear of retribution or discipline of any kind from their employer.
The dangers and costs of mandatory overtime have been well documented in a number of scientific studies published in the last decade, which included findings that nurses working mandatory overtime are three times more likely to make costly medical errors. Over a decade ago MNA Nurses went on strike at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester and Brockton Hospital -for 49 and 104 days respectively -- to stop the dangerous practice of mandatory overtime. After a period of relative stability, we have seen hospitals revert back to the dangerous practice of mandatory overtime as their primary staffing tool. In the past two years alone this practice has been at the core of contentious negotiations at Tufts Medical Center and Morton Hospital in Taunton (where the nurses voted to go on strike over the issue), Baystate Franklin Medical Center and Cape Cod Hospital.
- MNA President Donna Kelly-Williams, RN
- State Representative Denise Garlick, RN (D-Needham)
- Marie Ritacco, RN, a nurse at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester who was on strike for 49 days in 2000 over this issue.
- Kathy Metzger, RN, a nurse at Brockton Hospital who was on strike for 104 days in 2001 over this issue.
- Barbara Tiller, RN, a nurse from Tufts Medical Center whose nurses voted to strike over this issue in 2011.
Where: State House, Room 437
Contact: David Schildmeier, 781-249-0430 for more information, fact sheets on the law, or to schedule interviews with nurses in your coverage area.