Are 12 hour shifts safe?

  1. 0
    It has been my experience that most of my medical errors have occurred towards the end of shift, when I am most fatigued, and this is with an 8 hr shift. I work with nurses that like to do doubles, and many times one has to help them because they are to tired, or one feels like one should help them. 12 hours shifts do not make sense to me from a health and safety point of view. As nurses we should realize our bodies need rest. We are health role models for other workers, so what kind of example are we giving them. I wonder if a study has been done comparing med errors by nurses that work 12 hr shifts versus 8 hr shift nurses. My guess is that is higher. So my question is..are 12 hour shifts good for your health, and the well being of your patients?
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  3. 102 Comments so far...

  4. 0
    I work 2 12hour shifts a week. There is no option where I work but I like the 12 hours. I think it provides a better chance for continuity of care, being with pt most of the day during testing or procedures helps the nurse, the patient and the family. And I am 50+ and find going in only two days a week is a blessing.
  5. 0
    After working 8's and switching to 12's, I would have to say YES! I am not rushed, I have more time to review labs, H&P, diagnostics etc. Working 8's I felt rushed through my shift and never had the time to look at the history of most of my patients. I love to tag team (I work 12, the relief RN works 12...we can discuss how the patient has progressed or declined...etc). I have more time with my patients. I would never go back to 8's. Yes I sometimes have a lull in my shift (if I'm lucky) but by 0500...we start rolling and are running until we run out the door by 0800. I work med/surg/tele and have 4-6 pts w/ or often w/out an aide.
  6. 0
    Quote from skislalom
    After working 8's and switching to 12's, I would have to say YES! I am not rushed, I have more time to review labs, H&P, diagnostics etc. Working 8's I felt rushed through my shift and never had the time to look at the history of most of my patients. I love to tag team (I work 12, the relief RN works 12...we can discuss how the patient has progressed or declined...etc). I have more time with my patients. I would never go back to 8's. Yes I sometimes have a lull in my shift (if I'm lucky) but by 0500...we start rolling and are running until we run out the door by 0800. I work med/surg/tele and have 4-6 pts w/ or often w/out an aide.

    Thank you Brainy and ski. I havent really met someone that disliked 12 hours shifts, so I am not really surprised to find people that like them. But its good to get input regarding them. From my reasoning, the longer the work day, the more the fatigue, the more chance of bad outcomes for the nurse and the patient. But you point out some advantages I had not considered.

    When my mom was in a 12 hour shift hospital, I talked to one nurse that was working beyond the 12hr...16.I believe. We were staying with my mom, round the clock. It was one week before someone managed to smile and say,,,hello, ..how are you? And it wasnt a nurse, it was an xray tech. Most of the nurses looked so depressed, looking down at the floor, as they walked by. I just didnt know if the long shifts and understaffing is what is contributing to the high burn out rate in nursing. I also think, once you agree to a 12 hr shift its easier to get you to work, 2 hrs more, and where does it stop? But I guess if you were offered an 8hr shift for 12 hrs pay you would still prefer 12r shift...<smile>
  7. 3
    Quote from psychnurse1998
    It has been my experience that most of my medical errors have occurred towards the end of shift, when I am most fatigued, and this is with an 8 hr shift. I work with nurses that like to do doubles, and many times one has to help them because they are to tired, or one feels like one should help them. 12 hours shifts do not make sense to me from a health and safety point of view. As nurses we should realize our bodies need rest. We are health role models for other workers, so what kind of example are we giving them. I wonder if a study has been done comparing med errors by nurses that work 12 hr shifts versus 8 hr shift nurses. My guess is that is higher. So my question is..are 12 hour shifts good for your health, and the well being of your patients?

    I love 12 hour shifts...just don't work more than 2 in a row. that's unsafe! Most nurses (young and old) are too exhausted after 3 12's in a row.

    If you work one 12 or two 12's - it's fine....just get your sleep and you'll enjoy the extra days off with family!!!
  8. 1
    I've worked the 2-day Baylor Plan at my workplace for the past 2 years. It involves working two 16 hour weekend double shifts every Saturday and Sunday, having Monday through Friday off, and getting paid for a full 40 hour work week.

    After 2 years of working 16 hour shifts, I have not have any problematic issues with safety.

    I also worked 12 hour rotating shifts for 3 years. The rotating shifts involved working 3 weeks on day shift, then 3 weeks on night shift, then back to days, and so on. Again, no major issues with safety for me. I actually prefer compressed work weeks where I can work less days, have more days off, and be paid the same as my colleagues who work 5 to 6 days per week.
    psychnurse1998 likes this.
  9. 2
    Quote from psychnurse1998

    When my mom was in a 12 hour shift hospital, I talked to one nurse that was working beyond the 12hr...16.I believe. We were staying with my mom, round the clock. It was one week before someone managed to smile and say,,,hello, ..how are you? And it wasnt a nurse, it was an xray tech. Most of the nurses looked so depressed, looking down at the floor, as they walked by. I just didnt know if the long shifts and understaffing is what is contributing to the high burn out rate in nursing. I also think, once you agree to a 12 hr shift its easier to get you to work, 2 hrs more, and where does it stop? But I guess if you were offered an 8hr shift for 12 hrs pay you would still prefer 12r shift...<smile>
    I don't think that's a length-of-shift issue -- sounds like a staffing issue! So many of the hospitals are short-staffed and nurses are 'forced' to pick up more patients and 'mandatory overtime' that they have a fairly low level of job satisfaction.

    Thank God I'm not one of those... I found a position I LOVE working for a great company in a unit that openly shows how it values it's nurses. Wish we could clone it for the benefit of all nurses out there.

    Oh, and we work 12's in a 7-on, 7-off pattern (Thur/Fri/Sat - one person call Sun - Mon/Tue/Wed) so I get a week's vacation every other week.
    </smile>
    trmr and psychnurse1998 like this.
  10. 3
    I work three 12 hour shifts. I work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 7P-7A. I am exhausted by the end of the third twelve but I know I have 4 days off to recover so that makes it a little easier. I do not like my days split up. I like to work them three in a row and rarely ever do I work over the 12 hours as yes by then I am ready to leave. I like the fact that I work 3 nights a week and have 4 days off to do whatever I like.
    BayouLPN, trmr, and psychnurse1998 like this.
  11. 2
    I feel rushed when I work an 8 hour shift. 12 hours suits me a lot better because I don't feel rushed, and I get more days off to be with my children. Yes I do get tired, but I already anticipate that toward evening I will start getting that way, and so I make sure I am organized and prepared from the start. I also try to have an orange or some kind of healthy snack in the afternoon before the evening hits.
    BayouLPN and psychnurse1998 like this.
  12. 0
    Quote from KrissyPRN
    I work three 12 hour shifts. I work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 7P-7A. I am exhausted by the end of the third twelve but I know I have 4 days off to recover so that makes it a little easier. I do not like my days split up. I like to work them three in a row and rarely ever do I work over the 12 hours as yes by then I am ready to leave. I like the fact that I work 3 nights a week and have 4 days off to do whatever I like.
    Wow...what a great website. I have never had a chance to get such good input in this topic. I wonder if what nursing specialty you work has a bearing on how long one can work safely for 12 hours or even 16. I think some depts in one hospital work 8 others are on 12hr. I work psych, and expecially on a hectic shift, I am ready to go home. I talked to at least one nurse that has worked acute care, and warned me, that the patient load, because of the acuteness of todays patients was demanding. On one assignment I have gone to, I pass meds to 25 patients, assess patients with a change in condition, talk to patients relatives as needed, call doctor when there is a change in condition, and of course counsel and give prns to agitated patients. All this can give leave you burned out after 8hrs. Its true its not always that you have to send a patient to er and do everything I mentioned. Or that you have to spend 20 minutes explaining clients progress to a relative.
    So i wonder if different specialites are more exhausting both mentally and physically.


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