Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Yes in the grand scheme of things it's almost irrelevant but dammit it's still a good thing

It took five years of work, lobbying, and overcoming of corporate stalling and obstruction, but, CNN reported on Saturday,
New Jersey now has a state law barring hospitals and nursing homes from forcing health care employees to work overtime except in emergencies. ...

With the law that went into effect Tuesday, New Jersey joins only Washington state in banning mandatory overtime at health facilities. West Virginia lawmakers passed a ban that awaits the governor's signature. At least six other states have debated such legislation, according to Mary MacDonald, director of the AFT Healthcare union.
For years, forced overtime has been a major issue for health care workers along with rotating shifts (where personnel work different shifts at different time). Studies have repeatedly shown that staff in either of those situations are more fatigued, burn out quicker, and make more mistakes, putting patient health and safety at risk. But both practices are also cost-cutters for management who have therefore resisted any change. Now, at least for some health care workers, that may change.

Both the New Jersey Hospital Association and the state Department of Health and Senior Services suggest that it may be difficult to comply with the law because of staff shortages, particularly of nurses. However, the NJHA also admits that the average vacancy rate for nurses has fallen from 14% three years ago to 9% now due to more aggressive recruiting and improved wages. With rising nursing school enrollment, the rate should fall even further.

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