New MA law prevents nurses to work mandatory overtime

BOSTON (WWLP) — As of November 5th, a new law will go into effect that bans mandatory overtime for nurses across the state.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association says the new measure will prevent nurses from being forced to work excessive hours as an alternative to hiring more staff.

Supporters of the law say it will protect patients and save money by preventing medical errors that happen as a result of overworked and exhausted registered nurses. Specifically, the law limits nurses from working more than 12 hours a day unless there's an emergency situation.

According to Rep. Denise Garlick, (D) Needham , “It is certainly not the nurse's responsibility to run that second marathon and work while fatigued and endanger the patients simply because our hospitals don't want to hire the staff needed to operate safely.”

It will be up to a newly established health policy commission to define what an "emergency situation" is when nurses can be required to work overtime.

Hospital groups have long been opposed to the new law, arguing there is a growing shortage of qualified nurses. Nurse unions deny that claim, they say there are plenty of nurses in need of work in the Commonwealth.

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