As a 12 hour shift worker myself, I read this with concern. I love working three days and being off 4 days. It may be the only way I can stay working as a nurse until I retire. However, that said, I have to agree that those last 4 hours of the shift are usually a nightmare and occur at a time when I am exhausted. So, there is something to be said for the reduction of shift hours. I like the idea of 4 hour shifts, but don’t see how they could work.
Please read this article and let me know what you think, won’t you? This article is from HealthLeadersMedia and I hope you read the entire article which include many interesting comments on the original site.
It’s well known that caregiver fatigue is a huge cause of medical errors, whether the caregiver involved is a new resident coming off a marathon week or an overworked nurse pulling back-to-back shifts.
A few months ago, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education placed new restrictions on the hours residents can work and the supervision they receive. This follows years of research into new physicians’ training and the effect long hours and tiredness play in performance and contribute to poor quality care. A 2004 study found that first-year residents working all night were responsible for more than half of preventable adverse events.
Nurses don’t have the same extraordinarily-long work requirements as residents—and they clearly perform very different tasks—but like residents, they work long shifts and suffer from fatigue. Studies have linked nurse fatigue with medical errors, poor quality care, stress, and burnout.There are many reasons for nurse fatigue, but one stands out as pretty easy to fix: shift length. It’s no wonder that nurses are fatigued when 12-hour shifts are the norm. Despite the fact the Institute of Medicine has recommended limiting use of 12-hour shifts, it’s standard practice throughout the profession. Nurses routinely work back-to-back-to-back 12-hour shifts.
At the recent Nursing Management Congress in Grapevine, TX, held September 23-25, I attended a presentation by Cole Edmonson, CNO/vice president of patient care services at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Edmonson noted that research is helping us understand the dangers nurse fatigue presents to patients and to nurses themselves. He called 12-hours shifts a dead idea whose time has passed and suggested they may cause more problems than they solve. He asked attendees whether it is time to declare the end of 12-hour shifts.
I can’t imagine working a 12-hour day as a nurse. Nursing is a professional job, requiring college education and high-level thinking. But it’s also manual labor. Nurses are on their feet all day, running everywhere, lifting patients, changing dressings, inserting IVs, and all the other direct patient care responsibilities.
It’s no wonder that nurses are fatigued. Shifts include mountains of paperwork, difficult patients and families, and hundreds of tasks. Somewhere in all this nurses make time to connect with their patients, expressing compassion and empathy. Let’s not forget that 12-hour shifts also frequently run into overtime, when the nightmare shift means they have to stay late to complete their charting.
Over the next few years, more studies will be published that show the danger of nurse fatigue. What if hospitals preempted the public outcry and started reducing 12-hour shifts now? Let’s focus on shifts that are best for patients, nurses, and hospitals alike. This means ending rigidity and allowing greater flexibility.
Senior leadership can embrace creative staffing and scheduling options that increase satisfaction for nurses and improve efficiency. For example: <…click here to continue…>
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