Nurses' Work Hours

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Nurses’ Work Hours I have been a staff nurse in the emergency room for fourteen years. I have worked a variety of 8, 10, 12, and even 16 hour shifts. I currently am working 8 and 12-hour shifts on nights. Previously, I also worked some 12-hour day shifts. I personally have been struggling with working the 12-hour shifts. My commute to work is 1 hour one way and I have fallen asleep several times driving home from work. The last four hours of my shift I experience great fatigue and even have had trouble staying awake. I have come close to having medication errors and feel that my quality of care is less during the last four hours. When working 12-hour shifts I average around 5-6 hours of sleep before…show more content…
I have no time with my family on the days I work 12 hours. Even though I have more days off I feel I am spending at least one day recovering after working a long shift. I personally would rather have interaction with my family daily especially since the kids are in school. A colleague I interviewed also agreed that when working 12 hour shifts she had limited time with her family. Effects on Long Hours on Patient Safety As a result of nursing shortage hospital staff nurses are working longer hours with few breaks (Chen et al., 2011). In one quantitative study by Scott, Rogers, Hwang, & Zhang (2006) they randomly selected 1148 critical care nurses and sent them a demographical questionnaire to fill and return related to medical errors and the hours they worked. The objective of this article was to describe the work patterns of critical care nurses, determine if there was a relationship between the occurrence of errors and the hours worked by the nurses, and explore whether these work hours had adverse effects on nurses’ vigilance. The 502 respondents consistently worked longer than scheduled and for extended periods. Longer work duration increased the risk errors and near risk errors and decreased nurses’ vigilance. The findings supported the Institute of Medicine recommendations to minimize the use of 12 hour shifts and to limit nurses’ work hours to no more than 12 consecutive hours during a 24 hour period
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