After more than a decade of lobbying for a ban on mandatory overtime, nurses in Massachusetts are declaring victory.
Last week, as part of a major piece of healthcare cost containment legislation, Governor Deval Patrick (D) signed the ban into law, making Massachusetts the 17th state to outlaw mandatory overtime for nurses.
"We have been working on this piece of legislation for over 12 years," says Donna Kelly-Williams, RN, president of Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United (MNA/NNU). "There was a lot of pushback on it, [and] there was some denial that it was even happening."
Being forced to work mandatory overtime is more than a hassle and an inconvenience. In addition to the physical and emotional strain it places on nurses, patients also suffer when nurses work too many hours without enough rest. Organizations ranging from the ANA to the Institute of Medicine have called for a complete ban on the practice, arguing that it can lead to patient injury and even death.