Before, she said, it wasn’t uncommon for a nurse to be responsible for seven patients at a time.
Now, it would be a violation of the law for her to have more than five patients under her care.
Whether the overtime is planned or unplanned does make a difference: we plan to get extra sleep, bring an extra meal, and mentally prepare when we know overtime is coming; when it’s not, we’re caught between pleasing our supervisor and doing what’s best for the patient.
What happens if your nurse manager tells you that if you do not accept an overtime assignment, you are abandoning your patients? Generally speaking, patient abandonment occurs when a nurse leaves a patient without handing off that patient’s care to another nurse.
If the bill becomes law, he said, “it doesn’t matter what part of the state you’re in, you can be assured you’re going to have adequate nursing care whatever place you’re going into.” Lawmakers in D.
C., New York, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Iowa and Minnesota are also considering legislation.
While the language differs across the states, at the heart of all these bills is a minimum nurse-to-patient ratio — a fixed number of nurses per patient.
The bills call for a different ratio in different parts of a hospital.
“Hospitals right now are run like businesses and they’re focused on the short-term bottom line,” said Jeff Breslin, president of the Michigan Nurses Association, a union backing a minimum staffing bill in the Michigan legislature.
But she also said the law has made scheduling shifts more challenging.
Because the staffing ratios in California apply at all times, if a nurse goes on a break, “there has to be someone there to cover you,” Cochran said.
Study after study show that unplanned overtime assignments have a high potential to be unsafe.
Working more than 10 hours in a given day, when unplanned, results in lower quality of care, higher RN burnout, decreased patient satisfaction, and increased errors.