Even though the practice of making internist doctors work 24 to 48 hours has been discontinued in recent years, some doctors and nurses still work long shifts.—up to 16 hours. That’s bad for them, and studies have shown it can affect patient care too. Long hours mean more errors, studies show.
Patient errors increase 3-fold when nurses work 12 hours shifts as compared to 8.5-hour shifts, according to one study. And other studies have found similar odds. A lot has been written in scholarly studies and on the Internet about the effect of sleep loss on health care practitioners and their patients.
12-hour nursing shifts are the norm
According to AHC Media, 12-hour shifts for nurses are the norm.
Not only do the nurses and doctors suffer from working such long hours, some nurses report they are burned out on nursing because of it and want to quit the field.
The Joint Commission, which accredits hospitals, published a report (PDF) in 2008 that noted much research has been done on sleep deprivation in general. And the news about sleep deprivation for care providers and their patients is not good.
The Joint Commission’s report stated:
Although an extensive literature on sleep deprivation, circadian misalignment, and human performance has accrued during the past three decades, debate on the effects of these factors on physicians and nurses has persisted. The notion that providers’ long work hours might have an adverse effect on their performance and safety is not new. More than 35 years ago, it was recognized that extended work hours adversely affect medical and surgical performance. Subsequent studies have also documented additional adverse effects on provider health and well-being.
Even though a governing body has restricted the number of hours interns (doctors in their first years of practice) may work from 30 to 16, there are still concerns about medical personnel working 16- or even 12-hour shifts. Interns also may not work more than 80 hours a week.
The Joint Commission report said:
During the past three years, a series of studies have demonstrated the risks to patients and providers of long work hours in health care. Compared with nurses working shorter hours, nurses working greater than 12.5–13 consecutive hours report (1): a 1.9- to 3.3-fold increased odds of making an error in patient care; (2) a significantly increased risk of suffering a needlestick injury, exposing them to an increased risk of acquiring hepatitis, HIV, or other bloodborne illnesses; and (3) significant decrease in vigilance on the job.
The article references 24-hour-plus shifts in vogue for doctors in training in 2008, but in 2015 more than 40 hours per week were considered excessive for nurses, according to another publication, Health Affairs. That journal published an article in May 2015 titled The Working Hours Of Hospital Staff Nurses And Patient Safetythat stated:
The use of extended work shifts and overtime has escalated as hospitals cope with a shortage of registered nurses (RNs). Little is known, however, about the prevalence of these extended work periods and their effects on patient safety. Logbooks completed by 393 hospital staff nurses revealed that participants usually worked longer than scheduled and that approximately 40 percent of the 5,317 work shifts they logged exceeded twelve hours. The risks of making an error were significantly increased when work shifts were longer than twelve hours, when nurses worked overtime, or when they worked more than forty hours per week.
Both errors and near errors are more likely to occur when hospital staff nurses work twelve or more hours at a stretch.
The researchers found “that work duration, overtime, and number of hours worked per week had significant effects on errors. The likelihood of making an error increased with longer work hours and was three times higher when nurses worked shifts lasting 12.5 hours or more (odds ratio =3.29, p =.001). Working overtime increased the odds of making at least one error, regardless of how long the shift was originally scheduled (OR = 2.06, p = .0005).
Another study, in Nursing Times, says:
We found that both longer shifts and working overtime were significantly associated with lower quality of care, worse patient safety reports and more care left undone (p<0.05). Compared with nurses who were working eight hours or fewer, the odds of nurses who worked 12 hours or more on their most recent shift describing the quality of nursing care in their unit as “poor” or “fair” increased by 30% and the odds of them reporting “failing” or “poor” patient safety in their units increased by 41%.
Plus, it’s inhumane to make people work such long shifts.
An editor at NurseTogether.com wrote in the comments:
I am in favor of nap rooms for 12 shifts. If flight attendants on long flights have mandatory rest, why can’t we implement this for the nursing profession?
To which another apparent nurse replied:
Nap? Sounds great, but too often even getting lunch is challenging.
(It’s not an urban legend that flight attendants are required to take naps on long flights. Pilots also have nap quarters, according to a 2015 article in Huffington Post.)
The Daily Mail, an English newspaper that is a bit on the sensational side, had this headline on an article from 2015: 12-hour nursing shifts are “slave labour”: Nurses’ health “put at risk” while patient safety suffers, union warns.
All that said, six of seven nurses writing in a comment section of the site PackBackBooks.com said they would rather work 12-hour shifts. Some like the three-day-a-week work schedules. Others said they get to see how their treatments are working over a longer shift.
Megan B. wrote:
I am partial to 12hr shifts. One of the positives of 12hr shifts is the shorter work week (only 3 days!). This leaves you with the opportunity (if you wanted to), to have a different part time nursing job or to just spend more time with your family etc. Also with working 12hr shifts, you have better continuity of care and have more of an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions implemented. However, I do think there should be a limit on how many 12hr shifts you can work in a row.
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The holidays are upon us. It’s only October but with the rate this year has gotten to the tail-end, we’ll all be wearing our favorite sweatshirts (forcibly or otherwise) and devouring the holiday away in no time.
The forward-looking you will already be starting to watch that *extra holiday weight* before the holiday even starts.
But one step at a time, right? After all, there’s a few weeks left before the celebrations and holiday parties officially kick in.
If the java lover in you has ever been curious whether caffeine can help curb the appetite, now is the perfect time to find some answers.
The word on the street is that caffeine is one of the best appetite suppressants.
Spoiler alert: researches tell us the jury’s still out on this one.
Have you been drinking coffee for years and starting to feel weird sensations after a cuppa? You’ve got to know something.
If you suddenly find yourself going through unusual post-caffeine effects such as anxiety, headache, faster heartbeat and tremors, you may be experiencing a shift in how your body metabolizes caffeine.
Two words: caffeine sensitivity.
Caffeine sensitivity is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes, it’s all a matter of our body adapting to caffeine in our system.
However, if all of a sudden you start to feel things that didn’t use to happen after having your caffeine fix, then it’s time to watch that caffeine intake!
What if I tell you that aside from perking you up, caffeine can also help you concentrate and become more productive?
If, during mind-numbing, brain-wracking moments, you want to feel like Popeye going for a whole can of spinach, just reach out for the coffee-maker and you’re likely to feel the same! (For the best java experience, know when’s the best time to drink your coffee here.)
Caffeine can also help you absorb information and remember them more efficiently.
Yep! Our favorite stimulant can boost mental performance in more ways than one. Have a cuppa and you’ll find yourself retaining more information from classes and business meetings, kill it in planning and problem-solving, and finish those day-to-day tasks efficiently.
Without further ado, here are 8 ways caffeine can help us take a step closer to becoming Einstein-genius: