WA Appellate Court says nurses cannot have 'break buddies' must use designated break nurse - page 3

U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says “NO” to break buddies at MultiCare | Washington State Nurses Association We're dealing with this right now in Oregon as well. The board/bean counters won't... Read More

  1. by   adventure_rn
    This strikes me as one of those policies that seems great for nurses, but in practice will probably make things much harder at the bedside.

    Most nurses try to strategically plan their break to take place at a time when there's a lull in patient care (i.e. assessments are done, meds are given, everyone has toileted). Logistically, if only one person can take a break or have lunch at a time (since there's only one 'break nurse'), that means that people's breaks and lunches will probably get pushed back, and will probably fall at times that are less convenient for patient care. When someone breaks me, I only give them a 5-minute report (as opposed to the half hour report I give at handoff); in the ICU setting, I don't want my 'buddy' or break nurse taking over my meds, assessments, family communication, etc. It seems like if you have your mandated lunch break at a certain scheduled time, patient care could suffer (either because someone who doesn't really know the patient is doing the care, or because the nurse waits to provide the care until after lunch).

    In addition, since every person's break and lunch depends on the person before them getting back to free up the 'break person,' I think the schedule would fall behind as the day goes on. I'd be annoyed if I'd planned my nursing care around having lunch at a certain scheduled time, and then got delayed by half an hour while I sat on my hands waiting for the break nurse; consequently, I'd be half an hour late for all of my cares when I got back.

    I personally don't care what time I go to lunch, but I know that there are some nurses who would be extremely temperamental if they were hungry, had finished up their patient care, and had time to go eat, but weren't allowed without handing off to the break nurse because it is now illegal. This is especially true when several people order delivery food to the unit; in this scenario, they'd have to take turns eating it one at a time (which would equal some very hangry nurses).

    I am all about support/resource nurses who are available to step in and break you if you need it, or who are able to jump in and help with your assignment if your 'lunch buddy' gets tied up. However, my guess is that this policy will probably lead to more missed lunches and missed breaks.

    Honestly, I think the best solution would be to make sure that assignments are appropriate in the first place (the main underlying issue), and have a resource person available as needed (rather than being mandated to cover breaks). I've always worked places with decent ratios and a resource nurse to help out, and I've never had an issue with covering assignments for breaks.

    As a sidebar, I think that it would be kind of sad in the break room if only one person could eat lunch at a time (assuming that there's only one 'break nurse'). Chatting with coworkers mid-day can be therapeutic and revitalizing, and you can't do that if you're all alone.
    Last edit by adventure_rn on Aug 13
  2. by   klone
    Quote from adventure_rn
    This strikes me as one of those policies that seems great for nurses, but in practice will probably make things much harder at the bedside. <big snip>

    Honestly, I think the best solution would be to make sure that assignments are appropriate in the first place (the main underlying issue), and have a resource person available as needed (rather than being mandated to cover breaks). I've always worked places with decent ratios and a resource nurse to help out, and I've never had an issue with covering assignments for breaks..

    That sounds so sensible!! You should run for Congress. Seriously - I so wish the state health authorities that are tasked with making sure hospitals are in compliance with these black-and-white laws had even a smidge of the common sense that this post demonstrates.

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