WV Gov. Wise Signs Nurses Overtime Bill

Nurses Activism




CHARLESTON, W.Va. * Gov. Bob Wise today signed S.B. 251, the Nurses Overtime Bill.

"Nurses are the largest group of licensed health care providers in the state. They are called upon to evaluate patients and make life altering decisions in split seconds," Wise said. "To preserve the high quality of care we require, hospitals must rely on registered professional nurses to manage patient care. We cannot ask nurses to work hours on end, jeopardizing patient and employee lives."

This legislation provides that a hospital cannot compel a nurse to work overtime if the nurse believes it would jeopardize the safety of patients and employees. The prohibition does not apply to: voluntary overtime; when a nurse needs to complete a patient's care procedure already in progress; when a collective bargaining agreement is in place incorporating a procedure for the hospital to require overtime; or when an unforeseen emergency arises.

A nurse who works more than 12 consecutive permitted hours must be allowed at least eight consecutive hours off-duty.

"This legislation provides enhanced patient safety, while improving the working conditions of our nursing work force * covering more than 10,000 nurses at 60 hospitals statewide," Wise said.

Wise also praised the work and dedication of the Nurses Association and the Hospital Association for their efforts in the passage of this bill.

The new law goes into effect May 17, 2004.

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