Some facilities may have policies requiring nurses to work overtime. Each licensed nurse should inquire about facility policies regarding these issues prior to employment. Mandatory overtime-involuntary time when nurses are required to remain for all or part of another shift, or when nurses are required to come to work beyond the agreed-upon shift assignment.
It_is widely recognized that long work hours of some nurses represented one of the most serious threats to patient safety because risks of making an error are significantly increased when work shifts are longer than 12 hours or when nurses worked more than 40 hours per week. Threats to patient safety include the following: nurses being less alert to changes in patients’ condition, nurses having slower reactions, and medication errors. Nursing judgment and provision of nursing care may be impaired if a nurse is physically, mentally or emotionally exhausted, which could lead to nursing errors.
There are several reasons that are generally offered to explain the use of overtime in heath care organizations:
-an unexpected emergency situation
-weather conditions may prevent the normal change of shift
-professional ethics sometimes prevent nurses from leaving during an ongoing procedure.
-inability to hire sufficient full-time nursing staff, so overtime is used to fill in the gaps.
While nurses who work overtime are paid time and a half, employers who require nurses to work overtime do not have to provide any additional benefits, and employers save the cost of hiring agency nurses or traveling nurses to fill in.