The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has studied the effects of long shifts on nurses and the subsequent effects on patients. They’ve found, after looking at two different studies over 10 different wards, that quantity and quality of care suffers when nurses work 12-hour shifts. Paper is: here
Nurses are often required to work longer shifts to make of for staffing shortages. Nurses are asked to stay late or come in early to make up for shifts that were not scheduled.
Nurse studies report drops in alertness, performance, and satisfaction with longer shifts, which affects their ability to safely care for patients. The report concludes that hospital errors should be avoidable, and if hospitals don’t believe that an employee’s environment, including staffing requirements, don’t contribute to medical errors, then the proof of the patient’s safety is on the hospital, not the employee.