Three nurses, who all worked for San Francisco-based Dignity Health at one time, filed a lawsuit against the health system Sept. 10, alleging seven of its regional hospitals denied them overtime pay, according to the Sacramento Business Journal.
The lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status, alleges the seven Dignity hospitals use timekeeping software that avoids paying nurses overtime.
Registered and licensed practical nurses at Dignity Health hospitals typically arrive 20-30 minutes before their shifts begin and stay 10-20 minutes after their shifts end for preparatory purposes, the lawsuit claims. However, nurses aren’t paid for this additional work because the timekeeping software allegedly rounds to the nearest hour.
“The result is RNs and LVNs are only paid for exactly 12 hours of work each shift (which is consistent with their paystubs), regardless of when they actually clock in or out,” the lawsuit states, according to the Sacramento Business Journal.
In an emailed statement to the Sacramento Business Journal, Dignity Health said it is reviewing the complaint and that it typically does not comment on pending litigation.
The following seven California hospitals are listed in the complaint: Woodland Memorial Hospital; Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento; Mercy Hospital of Folsom; Mercy San Juan Medical Center in Carmichael; Mercy Medical Center Redding; Methodist Hospital of Sacramento; and Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital in Grass Valley.
“The trend toward our hospitals being primarily populated with nurses with less than two years’ experience is worrisome.”
At least three colleagues who’ve recently been patients in hospitals or had family members who were have remarked on the youthful nurses they encountered—and on their lack of experience. In two of the conversations, my colleagues cited instances in which this lack of experience was detrimental to care, one of them dangerous. That “sixth sense,” that level of awareness that comes with lived experience and becomes part of expert clinical knowledge, is important for safe, quality patient care.
In the February editorial, I report on the answers I received when I queried our editorial board members about new nurses’ inclination to work in acute care for only two years to gain experience and then leave to pursue NP careers. Many of the board members have seen a similar trend, one reflected by research on nurse retention, some of it published in AJN (most recently, see Christine Kovner’s February 2014 study on the work patterns of newly licensed RNs, free until February 6).
As one board member noted:
“The narrative must be shifted to embrace the full range of roles and contributions of all nurses. Our health care system depends upon a well-trained, experienced workforce. The trend toward our hospitals being primarily populated with nurses with less than two years’ experience is worrisome.”
It’s a complex issue, and no one is faulting new RNs for the career paths they pursue. But as this trend accelerates, what can be done to ensure that there are enough experienced nurses at the bedside to protect patient safety? Let us know your thoughts.
In 2015, 330,000 registered nurses made up the largest health profession in California. This overview of the nursing workforce looks at supply, demographics, education, distribution, and pay.
California is home to more than 330,000 actively licensed registered nurses (RNs), making nursing the single largest health profession in the state.
Key findings include:
- The nursing workforce has grown more diverse. Non-white RNs accounted for almost half (48%) of employed nurses in 2015. However, compared to the state’s population, Latinos were significantly underrepresented in the RN workforce, while Filipinos and whites were significantly overrepresented.
- The pre-licensure programs for RNs produced 11,119 graduates in 2015, slightly down from a high of 11,512 in 2010.
- California’s RN workforce relies on foreign-educated nurses. In 2015, about one in five employed RNs were trained outside the US.
- 64% of employed RNs worked in a hospital in 2014. Another 15% were in ambulatory care.
- Nurses’ average income was $100,000 in 2015.
- In 2015, more than two-thirds (71%) of LVN graduates came from for-profit schools.
Quick reference guides, as well as a full report from 2010, are available under Document Downloads.