Working long hours at a hospital can have a negative impact on both patients and nurses. Aside from lowering patient satisfaction levels, prolonged hospital shifts can also take a toll on nurses’ overall health. In addition to these impacts, 12-hour nursing shifts increase the potential for medical mishaps, and are linked to higher burnout rates among nurses
In order to be productive and perform at their best, nurses must remain healthy and alert. However, nurses who work prolonged shifts often report that they feel fatigued, which ultimately results in patient dissatisfaction. Even though there are no policies in place regulating nurse shifts in the U.S., hospital scheduling software can help healthcare administrators avoid the negative effects of prolonged shifts on nurse health.
A recent study published by the British Medical Journal’s Occupational and Environmental Medicine revealed that nurses who work prolonged shifts are at a greater risk for developing breast cancer than their colleagues who take on shorter shifts. Additionally, according to Scrubs magazine, the correlation between prolonged hospital shifts and breast cancer is caused by disruptions to internal body mechanisms, which are responsible for maintaining a person’s health.
Aside from cancer risk, nurses who endure prolonged hospital shifts are also at risk for other types of diseases. According to Scrubs, many reports have found that healthcare employees who work night shifts or longer hours are at a higher risk for developing diabetes and prostate cancer. Other potential health issues reported included sleep deprivation, burnout and emotional fatigue.
Lastly, in a study conducted by MedScape, research revealed that longer shift lengths were directly linked to both patient and nurse dissatisfaction. Nurses who worked 10 or more hours were at a greater risk of being burned out and unhappy with their profession. Furthermore, nurses’ well-being was also correlated with patient experiences. The study showed that longer hospital shifts resulted in undesirable outcomes for both patients and nurses.