Can nurses in the US really work a straight 24 hour shift??

  1. I was reacently watching an episode of Dr Phil (yes I know I need a new hobby ) about women who are overworked/overscheduled etc. There was a story of a woman who is a nurse in a neo natal intensive care unit who works a straight 24 hour shift. Is this correct - working 24 hours in a row? Here in Australia we are able to work up to 12 hour shifts depending upon the hospital policy but Ive never heard of anyone working a 24 hour shift.

    Anyone know of this practice??
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  2. 46 Comments

  3. by   suzanne4
    Straight 24 hour shifts are illegal in most instances, however, if the nurse is a CRNA, NNP, etc., they may be at work and paid for the 24 hours, but get to sleep when they aren't doing a case or having to be at the patient's bedside, similar to when residents are on-call for 24 hours.
  4. by   ParrotHeadRN
    A few Christmases ago I stayed after my 12 hour shift to help the night shift because they were drowning. I was only going to stay a little while. It just got busier and busier and by the time I knew what had happened, it was 7 am and I had been there for 24 hours. It was terrible and I made a mistake and missed an order for a colonoscopy prep. Thank god that's all it was and we could fix it. It was a very dumb thing to do and should NEVER be done. I'LL never do it again for sure. Very dangerous. Luckily I wasn't doing direct patient care, just the desk after the first 12 hours. I hope it isn't done as a regular practice anywhere!
  5. by   gwk
    when i worked in New jersey you could only legally do 18 hours straight not sure about Tx where I live now...bottom line I think anything over 18 hours and Im just asking for trouble...mistakes happen!
  6. by   jbro
    many people at my old hospital frequently work 16's, but never 24's
  7. by   Rustyhammer
    I've done a few 24's. In LTC you don't leave until the relief shows up. If they don't come, you don't go.
    -R
  8. by   FROGGYLEGS
    I believe the legal limit in TN is 20 hours, but thats not much better than 24.
  9. by   HannasMom
    Rusty, I work with a nurse at my facility that doesn't stay if her relief doesn't show up. Since I work the night shift on 1st floor, I end up responsible for call ins on MY floor. She thinks that includes her floor too. She works the evening shift on 2nd floor. If her relief doesn't show up she calls me to do report and count narcs on 2nd, then says, I'm sorry so and so didn't show up, but I have to get home. "Hope you find someone to work on 2nd." Guess what if I can't find someone I end up working both floors...60 some residents. This has only happened to me once. I became really upset by this the other night and I wasn't going to be stuck with 60 residents, when my floor is the skilled nursing floor. I run all night on this floor.

    I called the DNS and reported her right then and there, plus told her I was calling agency and I did. 60 residents is as dangerous as working 24 hrs straight. Residents do not sleep all night. Usually that's when they become really ill. Thanks for letting me vent.
  10. by   CCU NRS
    Quote from FROGGYLEGS
    I believe the legal limit in TN is 20 hours, but thats not much better than 24.
    I concur that this is always what I have been tols is the legal allowable time a nurse can work. 20 straight no more!!!
  11. by   live4today
    Who cares to be a martyr in nursing? Certainly NOT I! There is no way I would work those kind of hours. After twelve hours, I'm done for. Actually, after nine hours I'm ready to call it a day. My body just floats through the last three hours. :chuckle

    I would never let a nurse take care of me who worked more than 12 hour shifts. Being a nurse, I would have sense enough to ask a question like that if I were ever a patient again.
  12. by   zacarias
    I've worked 16 hours but I don't do this frequently and I definitely won't do more, plus thankfully it's illegal here to do more.
  13. by   nialloh
    IN New Jersey 16 hours is the limit. If all you are doing is paperwork, you will be allowed finish. But if you try a 17th hour of pt care, you WILL be sent home, no mater the problem with staffing.
  14. by   Tweety
    Maybe those shifts are kind of like firefighters and paramedics who do 24 hour shifts. They aren't actually working nonstop for 24 hours, just there on call, etc. Neonatal NP's probably are doing this kind of thing, just so there is someone there in a crises.

    Here we are not allowed to work more than 16 hours. I'm not sure if it's a law or just hospital policy. But we do have MDs in the ER, and MD residents working longer shifts, but some of that is spent in the sleep room.

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