Gray Area of Mandatory Overtime
Does one ever think about the words “required” or “extended work shifts”? To countless nurses these terminologies or jargons mean mandatory overtime. In today’s healthcare, “required” overtime has sky rocketed, attributable to, the nursing shortages throughout the United States. Studies have revealed that working “extended work shifts or additional shifts” have a negative impact on both patient and nurse safety. The purpose of this paper is to inform and advocate for the Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act. This author will discuss the key points, provide a critique of empirical evidence, and demonstrate the importance and impact of this Act to the nursing profession.
The continued shortage of registered nurses is a catalyst for the increasing stress placed upon practicing nurses now and in the future. Mandatory overtime has been an incessant problem within the nursing profession. When lives are at risk, alertness is a critical part of a nurse’s job performance. Fatigue impairs one’s judgement directly affecting patient and nursing safety or outcomes. This author’s typical six week work schedule consists of eighteen-twelve hour shifts, nine “required” twelve hour call shifts, and three-four hour back-up shifts. A nurse that accepts a patient assignment in the operating room cannot legally or ethically leave when their shift has ended without proper relief. Inevitably, without proper staffing departure is not an option resulting in additional mandatory overtime. Studies have reported that with the current shortage and continuous decline of bedside nurse there is a greater risk of the following; higher rates of morality, infection rates, medical errors/adverse patient outcome...
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...lcers, and patient satisfaction scores (American Nurses Association, 2014).
Importance to Nursing
As professional nurses, one is obligated to act ethically within any situation that may arise. This includes advocating for patients and the nursing profession. Legislating this Act will increase patient and nurse satisfaction.
In conclusion, it is time to take action. Every day legislative and regulatory decisions are being made that impact the nursing profession. Therefore, be an advocate for patient safety and the well-being of nurses. In order to provide the care our patients deserve, polices and regulations need to be sanctioned. Supporting and advocating for the enactment of the Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act will ensure positive patient outcomes by regulating mandatory overtime, high patient to nurse ratios, and unsafe staffing levels.
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