Eight-hour shifts benefit nurses, patients, and support staff. Yet, here in Ontario, where I'm a fourth-year student nurse, some hospitals only have 12-hour shifts, whereas others combine eight- and 12-hour shifts.
Research in the past decade documents the negative impact of 12-hour shifts, particularly regarding errors that lead to patients' death. These occur more often when nurses work 12-hour shifts.1 In addition, 12-hour shifts are known to cause fatigue, which may result in patient care errors, needlestick injuries, and musculoskeletal injuries, as well as drowsy driving, sleep deprivation, and ill health consequences.2
It's crucial to apply what we've learned instead of waiting for more evidence. It's time to better protect nurses and patients.
1. Trinkoff AM, et al. Nurses' work schedule characteristics, nurse staffing, and patient mortality. Nurs Res
2. Geiger-Brown J, Trinkoff AM. Is it time to pull the plug on 12-hour shifts?: Part 1. The evidence. J Nurs Adm