Bill would impose $10,000 fines on hospitals that overwork nurses

Share this content:

A new bill would penalize hospitals that force nurses to work extra hours after finishing their shift.

Proposed by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), the bill calls for up to $10,000 in civil penalties. The bill would allow nurses to work overtime voluntarily, but their employers could not require that they work extra hours after a shift unless there is an official state of emergency.

The bill would also give the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services authority to investigate nurses' overtime complaints and to fine violators. The department could also increase fines against repeat violators.

A 2004 study by the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing revealed that nurses who worked 12.5 hours or longer were three times more likely to make errors than nurses who worked a regular shift of about 8.5 hours.