Even though the number of states banning mandatory overtime is growing, Kelly-Williams says the practice of requiring nurses to work overtime is not diminished; in fact, she says, it's on the rise.
She says hospitals routinely under-employ nurses in order to achieve the bare minimum staffing levels and save money. But Kelly-Williams argues that it costs hospitals more in the long-run because of errors caused by overworked nurses.
"It is my hope that the staffing will improve as a result of this legislation," she says.
Although Massachusetts hospitals are required to report cases of mandatory overtime under the new law, there's no other way to really enforce the legislation. Research published earlier this year in the journal Nursing Outlook, however, found that state-mandated caps on nurses' mandatory overtime hours have been successful at reducing overtime hours for newly licensed registered nurses (NLRNs) in those states.
"There is just simply no question that mandatory overtime is repugnant to most nurses," Carol Brewer, PhD, RN, FAAN, professor at the School of Nursing, University at Buffalo, told HealthLeaders in January.