Ohio may ban mandatory nurse overtime

The Ohio House voted 79-13 on Wednesday in favor of a bill that would block mandatory overtime hours for nurses at hospitals.

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The Ohio House voted 79-13 on Wednesday in favor of a bill that would block mandatory overtime hours for nurses at hospitals.

The Ohio House voted 79-13 on Wednesday in favor of a bill that would block hospitals from using mandatory overtime hours for nurses as a condition of employment.

The measure was backed by the Ohio Nurses Association but opposed by the Ohio Hospital Association and Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

The bill now moves to the Ohio Senate for consideration. It would make exceptions for urgent circumstances and during extended surgeries. Supporters of the bill say compelling nurses to work unscheduled overtime can result in negative health outcomes for nurses and patients.

State Rep. Don Manning, R-New Middletown, said nurses who decline to work overtime have in some cases been threatened with disciplinary action, including termination, or being reported to their administration for patient abandonment.

State Rep. Don Jones, R-Freeport, another supporter of the legislation, said 63 percent of nurses in Ohio report working overtime each month and of those nurses, 35 percent said they were afraid to refuse the overtime.

Related: Ohio considers bill to ban mandatory OT for nurses

Shelly Malberti, vice president of the Ohio Nurses Association, said in written testimony supporting the bill that short staffing and requiring overtime are used to boost bottom lines at hospitals.

“Mandatory overtime is not a staffing solution. It is not even a band aid. Putting a band aid over a hemorrhage is an ineffective treatment,” she said.

James Guliano, vice president of quality programs for the Ohio Hospital Association, said state law already holds hospitals accountable for safe staffing plans. Hospitals need flexibility to meet patient needs, said Guliano, who is a registered nurse.

“Overtime is not used as a routine hospital staffing plan,” he said.

Across Ohio there are more than 200,000 registered nurses.

Related: Mandatory OT at center of nurses strike at hospital

More than a dozen states already prohibit mandatory overtime for nurses in hospital jobs. If the bill becomes law, nurses would still have the option to voluntarily work overtime hours.

A similar bill cleared the Ohio House last legislative session but did not clear the Senate.

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