Presence of Nurse Mandatory Overtime Regulations and Nurse and Patient Outcomes
Sung-Heui Bae, PhD, MPH, RN
This study did not find any relationship between mandatory overtime regulations and nurses' overtime hours. As a result, although there were significant relationships between the regulation and adverse patient events, the regulations did not have an impact on patient outcomes. Mandatory overtime regulations were not related to nurse injuries. This finding encourages further research in this area to evaluate state mandatory nurse overtime regulations. Although state policy has been in place for a considerable time period, from this study sample, we found that few nurses had knowledge about the policy.
Thus, future studies should examine the current status of the understanding of state mandatory nurse overtime regulations among staff nurses and hospital managers prior to evaluating the implementation of such regulations and their impact on nurse overtime and patient outcomes. At the same time, as this study found, we must be very cautious about the impact of working overtime and long work hours, which increase both nurse injuries and adverse patient events. When working conditions do not support nurses in providing quality patient care, nurses leave their positions, and nurses' sleep and fatigue have a greater impact on patient safety.
As more states regulate mandatory nurse overtime and long work hours, policymakers and advocators need to monitor whether the regulations have been properly implemented and researchers need to provide a rigorous ap proach to evaluate the impact of such regulations on the use of nurse overtime and nurse and patient outcomes. Importantly, nursing faculty need to understand health care policy changes that have a significant impact on nursing practice and patient care, and they should deliver this information to students.Students need to understand this policy is a right and responsibility of nurses for their well-being and their patient's safety. They need to proactively adhere to these regulations. Also, state governments, health care facilities, professional nursing or ganizations, nurse managers, and staff nurses all need to understand the impact of working overtime and long hours and the importance of both hospital and nurse compliance with legislated overtime regulations to protect both nurse and patient safety.