Are 12-hour Shifts Safe for Nurses and Patients?

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They’re popular with staff nurses but the research shows that they are adversely affecting nurses and patients alike. Read my recent guest blog post at American Nurse Today online and weigh in on this important issue.

5 thoughts on “Are 12-hour Shifts Safe for Nurses and Patients?”

  1. 12hour shifts- ESPECIALLY in my opinion and experience can be DEADLY for nurse and PATIENT – 7P-7A- the mind is willing but sometimes the BODY isn’t! Especially when the nurse has been up ALL DAY taking care of personal matters and business and is limited on getting proper rest or this is night (4/4)!!!

  2. 12 hour shifts ARE NOT safe for anyone involved! It truly puts patients at risk for errors. The 12 hour shifts must benefit hospitals or they wouldn’t do them. We, as a profession, must insist on going back to 8 hour shifts. This was a decision made that we had no input on, yet we are the ones jeopardizing our licenses each shift we work, espeically those on nights!

  3. From my perspective, you have to actually be a Nurse to really know the super-human demands that are required of Nurses on a daily basis. I do hear a lot of Nurses saying that they love 12-hour shifts… but I’ve never heard any of them say that it is safe for patients or for Nurses to work 12-hour shifts!!! I feel that people who are not Nurses have their opinions but you have to have worked in a busy E.R. or Recovery Room to truly understand what this means. I am a PACU (Recovery Room) Nurse in pediatrics and I used to be an E.R. Nurse. For all of those who don’t understand what this means… try feeling absolutely exhausted, beyond words, so tired that your eyes burn, your brain can no longer add 2+2 without checking and rechecking it three times, feeling dizzy almost with a buzz in your ears… and of course you haven’t had water or food in six hours… your bladder is about to explode…. your blood pressure is super low and so are your sugars… and God willing, you don’t have to do number two which is absolutely out of the question in busy hospitals!!! Now on top of this… you now have a three month old baby who WILL DIE if you can’t secure an airway NOW or if you make a mistake when you calculate drugs!!! You also have the family screaming and begging you to save their baby!!!! And YOU feel like you’re about to collapse!!!! How safe is this????? Hopefully this is not YOUR baby, because if it is…. you may not be so quick to defend the idea of having Nurses work long shifts!!! Oh yes, and on top of it, add on to this equation the fact that we have to sometimes comutte 3 to 4 hours to get to work and back home, plus get on a shuttle both ways because we can’t park at the hospital, plus another half an hour to one hour for giving report at the beginning and end of the shifts! You’re talking about 17+ hour shifts!!!!! And then we need to be there again the next day and do it all over again!!!! One must be a Nurse, live it every day… and then talk about the “safety” of 12-hour shifts!! I believe that hospitals need to put patient safety and the safety of our nursing licenses first… before their own financial gains which is what really stands behind the brutal work shifts imposed on Nurses today!

  4. I agree with Alex, I am surprised so many Nurses still want 12 hour shifts, if there was a vote in my Hospital it would probably be to keep 12 Hour shifts but when honest these nurses only want them because they live so far away and want to make the commute less often. I work 12 hours and will not schedule more than 2 in a row. I’m exhausted at the end of the day, am usually anxious the night before as I dread being so tired and fear making a mistake or forgetting something. Really would love to go back to 8 hours, so much better for Nurses and Patients.

  5. We have the research that tells nursing the results of 12 hour shifts. The major issues are working several shifts in a row. Nurses need to monitor themselves and not keep working and compromising themselves and the patients.
    I worked 7P-7A for 9 years. The key is to plan your life around the night work, and that is not always possible for many. The first night is always the hardest. I would take a nap late in the afternoon for 2- 3 hours. I always slept at least 8 – 9 hours during the day when working.
    There is research that demonstrates that there are health issues working the night shift.

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