Last Thursday, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Pete Stark, D-CA, introduced the Safe Nursing and Patient Care Act of 2007 (H.R. 2122). The bill would limit “the number of mandatory overtime hours a nurse may be required to work.” According to CQ HealthBeat, Stark said, “We limit the time that truck drivers and pilots can work to protect public safety,” adding, “Safe nursing is in the public interest as well.”

The bill cites as evidence, a study published in Health Affairs [free access] which found that nurses who worked shifts of twelve and a half hours or more were three times more likely to commit an error than nurses who worked standard shifts of eight and a half hours or less. The bill was co-sponsored by Reps. Steven C. LaTourette, R-OH, and Jan Schakowsky, D-IL.

Nurse shortage survey. And a new article, published today in the May-June 2007 Health Affairs, reports the results of surveys of nurses, physicians and hospital executives regarding their concerns about the U.S. nurse shortage. Author Peter Buerhaus (Vanderbilt University) and colleagues write:

“Most respondents found that the major effects of the nurse shortage to date have been in the areas of communication, nurse-patient relationships, hospital capacity as measured in the management of bed availability, and quality of care, reflected by timeliness, efficiency, and patient-centered care.”

Tags: Nurses