How many hours can you work ?

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    Just finished working 22 hours straight. Last week it was virtually the same except I had 1/2 hour in between where I got to sit down before my pager went off yet again. Just wondered what your policy where you work is to the amount of hours you can be made to work before you tell them you've had enough. Getting a little tired of working from 6am one day until 4am the next day, getting an hour of sleep before I have to go back to work and be expected to work from 6am again until the schedule allows me to be the first to go home. I didn't have to do this kind of massive call at my last hospital and it seems to be the normal at my new job. What did I get myself into ? Both times this has happened, I felt physically ill, my ankles and feet hurt really bad and I was starting to feel as if I was a walking zombie. If it wasn't for my nice enough boss letting me grab a bite to eat before she went home for the night, I would have worked with no break or food from noon on that day until 4 am the next. I understand taking call and doing surgery is part of the job but gimme a break. How safe is this for the patient ? Anyone else have any nice stories of long shifts to share ?

    Thanks
  2. 11 Comments so far...

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    Over here we have to comply with the european working time directive which means that you can work no more than 48 hours a week or 12 hours a day. We must have at least I think an 8 hour break between shifts.

    I only occasionaly work 48 hours a week and I find it exhausting. I am not safe to practice by the end
    lehcareaj likes this.
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    I'm bumping this because I'm really interested in responses. I'm hoping to switch to the OR come June and I just can't imagine requiring someone to work 22 hours straight, sleep for and hour and return for an 8 or 12 hour shift. That's insane.

    I've worked as an EMT in NJ for 5 years and the company was required to show that you worked no more than a 23 hour shift and left for at least 8 hours before returning to work. I can't imagine anyone being functional and coherent to work high stress, high intesity situations on 1 hour sleep.

    Does this really happen?

    OR Male Nurse, I presume you're in Michigan. Is this your first OR job? Have you had to deal with hours like this before?
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    Quote from New2ER
    Does this really happen?

    OR Male Nurse, I presume you're in Michigan. Is this your first OR job? Have you had to deal with hours like this before?
    I'm actually in Wisconsin and yes, it happens where I work. Not my first OR job. Never had to work 22 straight at the last OR but there wasn't a plan in place if you got stuck doing it. You worked the next day until you could go home first.
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    I've done my share of long shifts too. Now, if we are working between midnight and AM, we leave our supervisor a note and are off for the next 8 hours. We are expected to call in after 7 hours and see if we have to come in to help finish the schedule. This new policy has been a life saver for staff and patients alike. If we have a horrible weekend, we can call the house supervisor and have her find replacement staff so that we can get a few hours rest. Also, our house supervisors have been great getting us food for in between cases on call. We have one who will actually go down and make us sandwiches herself or have someone else do it. It has made an impossible situation a lot better.
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    Being on call, I too have run in to the situation several times of working 20+ hours in one day. It's exhausting. The time we were still there when the next day's shift came in, the next day was busy and we actually offered to stay and help get things going, but were told to go home.

    As far as eating and such, as the circulator, I make time for my team to work. Surgeons are usually very understanding and realize we are the only team and have to eat. We make it quick, but we eat. Sometimes the CRNA's or Anesthesiologists will offer to leave and get us something while we are getting the pt down to the OR and/or setting up the room.

    As for weekends, we do have a backup team so that if we work too many hours in one day, we can have the house supervisor call them in to work while we rest.
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    We too have the same problem. Our only help has come from other staff. We look after each other by offering the call team to come and take over to give a break if they get slammed. We have 1 call team per night/weekend, no back up. I, myself, don't bounce back like I used to. The 22 hour days take their toll. We are first out the next day IF schedule allows. CRNA's get next day off regardless. Which I've never been able to figure out. They have a staff of 7, we have a +20 staff and we can't have the next day off.
    Recently AORN has been talking about this very problem. That staff not work longer then 12 hours without a break. Looks good for us but the flip side is more call due to having to have a back up team avail.
    I think I like being able to say to the call team "hey I'm around this weekend if you get hit" rather than being mandated to take extra call and get stuck not being able to go do something on my weekends.
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    Legally, when you are too tired and no longer feel safe tell the supervisor. They then should relieve you; if not, they become responsible for your actions or lack thereof( at least thats what our State Board of Nursing states in so many words). Check with your State Board. As far as no potty or lunch breaks...well, thats what unions are all about!! Why is it that so many facilities in this day and age treat nurses like modern day slaves? Better yet, why do we allow it? They wonder why nurses join unions but just look at all of the stories of what I consider to be ABUSE. Many sound like stories that you would think only happened a hundred years ago but not so.
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    This is were we just have to stand up for ourselves, if I'm on call and work past midnight or so, I'm calling off the next day, period, end of story, I am not taking the chance of "hoping" to be the first to leave, seen that happen too many times.
    lehcareaj likes this.
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    It gets old, really, really quick...I remember one Saturday coming in at 6 am and I was still going at 2 am. I was getting so irritable it wasn't even funny. I was so worried that the patient would pick up on my crankiness. I couldn't help it, I was just tired. What makes it worse is that it was the day of the OR Christmas party and there was NOBODY available to call to see if they could give me a break. It just isn't fair. We have no back up call team. I would love to call the house supervisor-but who in that hospital can replace an OR nurse? We are so specialized it causes a problem. I was thinking yesterday about "safe harbor." Our state board recognizes that. Would that be an instance to call safe harbor?


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