From my BB friends at the Nursing Spectrum:
SENATE FANS THE FLAMES WITH NURSE OVERTIME BILL by Gary S Carter, Pres. NJ Hospital Assoc. " It's a basic rule of fire safety; Don't put water on a grease fire. It'll only make things worse. I'm reminded of that old precaution when I look at a new bill pendind in the Senate. In this case, the Senate's plan to douse a fire could blow up in your face and jeopardise the healthcare of millions of New Jerseyans." "Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Woodbridge) is working hard on strategies to ease the state's nursing shortage. But his latest idea, Seante Bill 2093, is an example of good intentions gone awry. This bill would prohibit hospitals from requiring nurses and other healthcare workers to work overtime during periods of short staffing. Leglislators say it's a matter of quality. That sounds good on the surface, but why don't their quality concerns apply to voluntary overtime and moonlighting as well?" "I wonder if anyone has really thought this matter through. If they had, they would recognize that mandatory OT must be available as a final resort to ensure patients are cared for. NJ and the entire nation are in the grips of an unprecedented nursing shortage. There's not a single hospital in this state that wouldn't like to hire more nurses. The reality is that they're flat-out not available. Our state anticipates a shortage of 14,000 RNs over the next five years." "Meanwhile the patients keep coming and they must be cared for. So in extreme circumstances when there's a floor full of patients and no nurse available, hospitals may require RNs to work extra hours. I make no apologies for that. As much as we value our nurses, hospitals' priority lies with the paitents, and those patients must have nurses at their bedsides." "The irony is that this bill, not overtime, could deliver a devastating blow to healthcare quality. How? Because it threatens access to healthcare. I'm sure you've seen news accounts of overcrowded ER's and hospitals diverting patients to other facilities. One of the reasons this is happening is the periodic unavailbility of hospital beds. That's because there are no nurses to staff them. If this bill becomes law, expect that problem to intensify." "This bill is at cross purposes with the quest for quality in yet another way. State regulations require that licensed nurses compromise at least 65% of the staff providing direct care to hospital patients. Yet hospitals could be hard pressed to meet that requirement if the state eliminates this last-ditch option for keeping nurses at the bedside. Every time I think about this matter, I see another unintended consequence. It makes me wonder where it will end. Will the next step be prohibition of OT for police and firefighters in the name of quality and safety? Like hospital nurses, they provide round-the-clock protection to our citizens." "In their rush to act, lawmakers have proposed a quick-fix that will only compound the complex problems plaguing our healthcare system. I would suggest to them that there are better ways of putting out this fire. NEW JERSEY HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION 760 ALEXANDER ROAD PO BOX 1 PRINCETON, NJ 08543-0001 www.njha.com
Perhaps we should all write him? firstname.lastname@example.org
And by the way write the paper, write a letter to the editor of your local paper, gain the ear of the media in whatever way you feel is appropriate.
NJ Legislature: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us