Patients are at risk when nurses work long, double shifts

From Health Leaders Media: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2320114

fatigued nurse

Patients are more at risk from fatigued nurses who work long or double shifts

There’s more on the discussion that long shifts results in “decision regret” by nurses.  They regret more of their actions because 12-hour shifts, double-shifts, and 2nd nursing jobs result in more risks to patients.  Nurses who are fatigued by working long hours wash their hands less often, are more prone to make medical mistakes, are more likely to allow patient requests to slip through the cracks, and allow gaps to occur in the continuity of patient care.

While some regulations curb nurses working long hours, hospitals and other facilities can get around those by requiring nurses to work longer than their scheduled shift, calling nurses in even after they’ve just worked a long shift, or giving nurses more “jobs,” which means their hours are split over two jobs, instead of one.   These hospitals may be cutting corners on staff costs, but the effects may fall on patients.

For example, a nurse who works a 12-hour shift washes his or her hands 8 percent less often by the end of the shift.  This can result in an increase in patient infections.  The author of the report calls the 12-hour shift, “one of the worst things we’ve ever did.”

A minimum standard of care in hospitals would decrease the need for long shifts and ensure that patients get the quality care they deserve.

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