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A pediatric intensive care unit nurse could care for only one patient at a time.John Armelagos is president of the Michigan Nurses Association."Almost eight in 10 voters agreed quality patient care in Michigan hospitals is suffering because nurses are being assigned too many patients per shift." Armelago says the legislation could also help with the shortage of nurses.He says "tens of thousands" of nurses re-entered the clinical and hospital care setting in California after a bill setting mandatory nurse-to-patient levels became a state law.In the event a nurse works 16 consecutive hours, the hospital must provide that nurse with at least 8 hours of consecutive off-duty time immediately following the 16-hour shift.Many Massachusetts hospitals are parties to collective bargaining agreements that include clauses expressly permitting the assignment of overtime and providing procedures for such assignments."The ability to respond quickly diminishes when their workload increases." The MNA released a survey the same day the legislation was introduced.Armelagos says the survey shows Michigan residents would support the legislation.

Additional laws may be accessed on the Web site of the Office of Revisor of Statutes .Hospitals are prohibited from regularly scheduling a nurse to work more than 12 hours in a 24-hour period.Hospitals are further prohibited from permitting a nurse to work more than 16 consecutive hours in a 24-hour period.The law specifically states that it does not "limit, alter or modify the terms, conditions or provisions of a collective bargaining agreement entered into by a hospital and a labor organization." This language may permit hospitals with nurses covered by a collective bargaining agreement that includes mandatory overtime provisions to argue they are exempt from the law's requirements, although labor organizations will undoubtedly vigorously oppose such an interpretation.On October 30, 2007, the Rhode Island General Assembly overrode the Governor's veto and enacted a law prohibiting mandatory overtime for nurses and nurse assistants in Rhode Island hospitals. The law covers nurses and certified nurse assistants in any private, public or state hospital in Rhode Island.

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