Press Release

Nurses Charge University of Chicago Medical Center is Jeopardizing Patient Safety

Nurses picketing for safe patient care

Registered nurses are filing complaints with the Illinois Department of Public Health and OSHAagainst the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) charging the hospital is failing to complywith federal and state laws and thereby jeopardizing patient safety, announced National Nurses United Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU).

Nurses across UCMC see every day on every shift that short staffing is causing delays and jeopardizing safe patient care,” said Talisa Hardin, a registered nurse in the burn intensive care unit. “Chemotherapy nurses say a lack of nurses in their unit has led to waits of up to four hours for treatment. One RN who works in ambulatory cardiology was so concerned that her unit had just two nurses instead of the necessary four, she cut her vacation short. She said she feared if nurses were unable to respond within 24 hours to patient calls and emails, those patients would wind up in the emergency room or dying at home.”

Nurses say not only is short staffing rampant throughout UCMC, but hospital management is also failing to uphold federal law addressing workplace injuries and Illinois law prohibiting mandatory overtime.

“State and federal laws are put in place to protect the public. It is greatly disturbing to find that UCMC is flagrantly disregarding statutes designed to protect nurses and patients,” said Illinois State Senator Robert Peters. “These complaints let UCMC know their behavior will not be tolerated and they will be held accountable.”

What: Press Conference to Highlight Patient Safety Concerns at UCMC
Where: Corner of 58th Street and Maryland Drive, Chicago
In front of the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine
When: Tuesday, June 11 at 11 a.m.

Speakers include:

  • Illinois State Senator Robert Peters
  • Alderwoman Jeanette Taylor
  • Reverend C.J. Hawking from Arise Chicago
  • Others from Community and Labor Groups

RNs Contend UCMC is Violating Illinois Law Requiring Staffing Plans

Registered nurses charge that UCMC is failing to follow the 2008 Nurse Staffing by Patient Acuity Act which requires hospitals in Illinois to implement and post a written staffing plan in each unit that aligns RN staffing with patient care needs. Furthermore, nurses say a study of the staffing plans that have been posted, show that UCMC is only staffing according to those plans 54 percent of the time. Studies show that when RNs are forced to care for too many patients at one time, patients are at higher risk of preventable medical errors, falls and injuries, certain medical complications, increased length of hospital stays, and readmissions. 

Since January 2017, nurses at UCMC have filed more than 1,430 assignment despite objection (ADO) forms detailing their concerns over unsafe staffing.

RNs Contend UCMC Violates Federal OSHA Regulations on Workplace Injuries

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to log workers injuries that require treatment or cause a nurse to miss work. These logs are necessary to evaluate the safety of a workplace, and to implement protections to protect nurses. While UCMC maintains logs, the logs fail to note what caused the injury. Without this critical information, it is impossible to determine trends of workplace injury or identify remedies to address the problems. Nurses say they are seeing an increase in injuries due to assaults at UCMC. In a 2017 survey of nurses, 32 percent reported being kicked, and 28 percent reported being hit at work.

RNs Contend UCMC is Violating Illinois Law Prohibiting Mandatory Overtime  

Nurses report they are being compelled to work mandatory overtime, sometimes as long as 6 hours of overtime, following completion of their scheduled hours shifts. Not only is mandatory overtime prohibited by Illinois law, it also leads to nurse fatigue and patient safety issues. A 2004 study found that nurses who work shifts of 12.5 hours or longer are three times more likely to make an error in patient care.