The Detroit News recently published an article discussing the lawsuit Miller Cohen filed against Caro Center psychiatric hospital in Tuscola County on behalf of Alan Teasel, one of roughly 600 involuntary patients at the facility. This case involves excessive mandatory overtime for the Resident Care Aides (“RCAs”) at Caro Center.
Here are six reasons why this case is important to the staff and patients at Caro and all residents of the State of Michigan:
1. Michigan law currently allows employers to require unlimited overtime shifts. Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, and West Virginia have laws related to mandatory overtime. Although a Michigan task force on nursing practices in 2012 noted concerns about patient safety linked to mandatory overtime and the Occupational Safety Health Administration (“OSHA”) has found that extended shifts may lead to stress, increased fatigue, and lack of concentration causing operator error, injuries, and accidents, there is nothing on the books to protect workers and those around them from these risks.
2. Some employees at Caro Center are working up to 16 and a half hour shifts on a regular basis, back to back. With a commute, these employees only have six and a half hours off to sleep, eat, and do everything else in their lives.
3. A report by Michigan’s OSHA released in October 2016, found that patients at Caro inflicted serious injuries on staff at the facility, including fractures of the skull and leg, detached retina, torn rotator cuffs, torn biceps tern, and torn labrum. Many of these injuries may have been preventable had staff been alert.
4. According to Doctor Timothy Roehrs, an expert on fatigue/excessive daytime sleepiness, and professor at Wayne State University, found that the mandated shifts “placed patients at greater risk for patient-on-patient aggression, self-injurious behavior, and higher ratings of aggressive tendency leading to their overmedication.”
5. It is unconstitutional to involuntarily commit mental patients if services are not provided to ensure their reasonable safety. The Supreme Court has held that “If it is cruel and unusual punishment to hold convicted criminals in unsafe conditions, it must be unconstitutional [under the Due Process Clause] to confine the involuntarily committed – who may not be punished at all – in unsafe conditions”
6. If the federal court finds in favor of the patients at Caro, more employees may be hired to staff Michigan’s psychiatric facilities, providing desperately needed jobs that will have a major impact on the safety and health of all Michigan residents.
For more information about this lawsuit, click below.
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