Nurses traditionally work shifts in excess of twelve hours. However, research
continues to suggest that these long shifts are not good for nurses or
their patients. In fact, studies suggest that the resulting “burn
out” could not only impact nurses’ job satisfaction, but could
lead to medical errors.
Science Daily reported, researchers in one study found that nurses who worked more than
ten hours at a time were up to two and a half times more likely to suffer
from burnout and job dissatisfaction, as compared with peers working shorter
shifts. In addition, seven out of ten patient outcomes were significantly
and adversely affected by the longest shifts.
In hospitals with a large portion of nurses working longer shifts, the
researchers noted higher percentages of patients reporting that nurses
sometimes or never communicated well, pain was sometimes or never well
controlled, and they sometimes or never received help as soon as they wanted.
“Traditional eight-hour shifts for hospital nurses are becoming a
thing of the past. Bedside nurses increasingly work twelve-hour shifts…When
long shifts are combined with overtime, shifts that rotate between day
and night duty, and consecutive shifts, nurses are at risk for fatigue
and burnout, which may compromise patient care," said Amy Witkoski
Stimpfel, PhD, RN, a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Health Outcomes
and Policy Research at Penn Nursing.
Additional studies confirm that longer shift length increases the risk
of medical errors and close calls. Researchers in Australia found that
there is a 3.4 percent chance of an error occurring when nurses obtain
six hours or less of sleep during a 24-hour period. While the risk may
seem low, it is compounded when the majority of nurses at a particular
facility are burned out.
As Bette McNee, health and human services technical specialist with The
Graham Company, a healthcare consulting firm,
noted to ACH Media: “If an average teaching hospital has 1,000 nursing shifts per day,
this error percentage equals 34 daily errors. Over a year, that’s
more than 12,000 patients whose care is at risk because nurses aren’t
getting adequate sleep.”
Unfortunately, medical errors among nurses have climbed steadily over the
past several years. Factors such as nursing shortages, a rise in temporary
workers, and longer hours may all play a part in the rise in nursing medical errors.
If you or someone you care about has suffered serious harm due to a nursing
error or other serious medical mistake, you may be entitled to compensation.
For more information, please contact
a San Diego medical malpractice attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage
for a free consultation.