Nursing isn’t only a day job. Just because it’s time to sleep doesn’t mean that people stop getting hurt or suffering from illness. Because of this, many nurses work exhausting work weeks that can be as long as 100 hours. Working the graveyard shift on top of another shift is more common for nurses than it should be. Exhaustion from long shifts decreases productivity and can be dangerous for nurses and patients alike.
Late last year the American Nursing Association recognized the issue of overworked nurses and put out a press release surrounding their concern:
“We’re concerned not only with greater likelihood for errors, diminished problem solving, slower reaction time and other performance deficits related to fatigue, but also with dangers posed to nurses’ own health.”
So what can you do to prevent decreased productivity among your nursing staff?
The ANA recommends that registered nurses not exceed 40 hours of professional nursing work during a seven-day period. While this may mean incurring the cost of staffing up your organization to cut down on overtime hours, the upfront costs of hiring are much less than the potential costs of injuries or lawsuits due to errors by fatigued nurses.
The ANA also recommends that shifts should under no circumstance exceed 12 hours in a 24-hour period. While long shifts have become an accepted part of working life for many nurses, persistent concerns have been raised about whether it is healthy or safe to work such long hours. In fact, a recent study by Stimpel and Aiken found that of 22,275 registered nurses in four US states, those who worked shifts of 12 hours or more were much more likely to report poor quality of car and poor safety than those who worked eight to nine hours. Nurses working 12-hour shifts are also found to be at increased risk of occupational dangers such as needlestick injuries.
It is important that your healthcare facility adopts the policy that nurses have the right to accept or reject a work assignment on the basis of preventing risks from exhaustion. If a nurse doesn’t feel mentally capable of doing the work, they should not be forced into working a late night.
If you’re looking for experienced nurses to adequately staff your organization, let the experienced team at BOS Medical Staffing help. Since 2008, BOS Medical has brought talented nurses, therapists and medical administrators together with top facilities. Our nursing and healthcare staffing recruiters go above and beyond to find the right candidate for the job. Contact us today to reduce fatigue and increase productivity.