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12-Hour Nursing Shifts and Patient Safety: Time to abandon this concept?


Specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion. Has 44 years experience.

is it time to abandon this concept due to nurse and patient safety concerns?? see this article highlighting safety concerns and call for well designed study. highlights several studies and articles..

12-hour nursing shifts and patient safety

the truax group, patient safety tip of the week

november 9, 2010

we've often been asked what we think about 12-hour shifts for healthcare workers from a patient safety perspective. in light of significant workforce shortages of not only nurses but also pharmacists and technologists and also economic challenges to hospitals, we are seeing the 12-hour shift implemented more and more frequently. so we've been searching for objective evidence of the impact of such schedules on patient safety. you'll have no problem finding papers about the impact of 12-hour shifts on a variety of parameters. in fact, whether you are "for" or "against" such shifts you'll have no problem finding a paper to support your position! but much of the literature is based upon anecdotal evidence (though don't forget anecdotes and stories are often our most powerful patient safety tools!) or studies lacking valid scientific design.

Edited by NRSKarenRN

JeanettePNP, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in Pediatric Pulmonology and Allergy. Has 8 years experience.

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Specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion. Has 44 years experience.

Fixed link.

Heavens NO!!

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 16 years experience.

I can only imagine the outcry if they did this where I work. There was enough of one when they decided to do away with 16 hour shifts for those who only work weekends. Talk about being unsafe!


Has 36 years experience.

Twelve hour shifts were supposed to be a stop-gap measure back in the early 80's when the shortage was severe. It was never meant to be permanent. Saved the hospitals a lot of money in benefits. They liked it!

I never liked 12's, always felt completely drained. Could never work more that 2 back-to-back. And as I have gotten older, I am shut out of the hospital workforce because I simply do not have the energy to do them.

Twelves often force nurses to leave the bedside for desk jobs, home health, hospice, etc. And of course, I have never seen anyone in admin working 12's as a regular work hours.

Not_A_Hat_Person, RN

Specializes in Geriatrics, Home Health. Has 10 years experience.

I liked working 12s. I think rotating shifts should be banned.

linearthinker, DNP, RN

Specializes in FNP. Has 25 years experience.

12 hour shifts wer the straw that broke the camels back for me and a the primary reason I'm decided to leave bed sided nursing. I hate them. I'd much rather do 8s.

I liked working 12s. I think rotating shifts should be banned.

Rotating shifts should be banned. However, hospitals and facilities CAN do eight hour shifts without shift rotation. It CAN be done!

Flo., BSN, RN

Specializes in Developmental Disabilites,. Has 7 years experience.

I don't like 12s. They are just too much on the body. Towards the end of the shift is when I make silly mistakes. I typically only get a half hour break for lunch. That is way to much time to work without a break.

ayla2004, ASN, RN

Has 5 years experience.

I liked working 12s. I think rotating shifts should be banned.

By rotating shifts do you mean, morning, evenings and nights with no fixed shift assigned to.

in the UK we call that internal rotation and its stanard


HeartsOpenWide, RN

Specializes in Ante-Intra-Postpartum, Post Gyne.

My department just passed a vote for a mixed unit. You can work 8s or 12s and can even switch but only each pay period.

nerdtonurse?, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU, Telemetry.

Having just worked 6 12 hour shifts in the last 7 days because ICU is slamming, it's not the 12 hour shifts, is how many you have to do in a row or a week that's dangerous. I feel like I get more done in a 12 hour. In an 8, I feel like just about the time I get the patients bathed, charts checked, labs looked at, docs called, etc., it's time to go. I've pulled a couple of 4 hour "fill ins" when someone had to go in sick or something, and those were the worst shifts...I felt like I never got anything done, I just ran from fire to fire...

jeckrn, BSN, RN

Specializes in EMT, ER, Homehealth, OR. Has 17 years experience.

When I worked the floor doing 8 hour shifts I felt more tired then when working 12 hour shifts. It is tuff to recharge when you only get 2 days off together every other weekend. This is really true when you work nights. Your day off is either spent sleeping or you are up all day being tired. It is much easier to work two 12 hour night shifts with 2 days off vs. working 3 or 4 8 hour shifts with only 1 night off then working 3 or 4 more nights.

I love 12s! It's something that I look at when thinking about changing hospitals; if they do 8s I won't even apply. I think it's much better for continuity of care. And I love having four days off!

GooeyRN, ASN, RN

Specializes in Psych, Med/Surg, LTC. Has 12 years experience.

I think 12's are fine, as long as you don't have to rotate.

Love 12s and work them on day shift. I love having four days off a week. I would like to see this always remain an option where I work. I honestly don't see it changing in the near future if ever where I am.

I work 12's as a CNA and I love it, way better then 8 hour shifts!! I am sure when I get my RN I will prefer 12's also.