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We work 12-hour shifts with no relief nurse. When we cover each other during meal breaks, is this against the state law for patient-to-nurse ratio and is it safe patient care?

Monday November 5, 2012
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Dear Donna,

I'm employed in a hospital on the med/surg telemetry unit and assigned four to five patients. The staff RNs work 12-hour shifts with no relief nurse. Instead, we are supposed to cover each other during meal breaks. Is this against the state law for patient-to-nurse ratio and is this considered safe patient care?


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Margaret,

For your question, I consulted Nancy Brent, RN, JD. She provides advice and additional resources along with some additional concerns. Read her response here http://News.Nurse.com/Apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2012121031002

To find a nurse attorney in your area, ask around, get a referral from your state chapter of the American Nurses Association (www.nursingworld.org, whether or not you are a member) or get a referral through the American Association of Nurse Attorneys (www.taana.org).

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://Events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.