12-hour shifts for nurses may affect patient care

London, Sep 13 (IANS) Hospital nurses who work longer than 12-hour shifts have a higher risk of wanting to leave their job, and more likely to burn out in terms of emotional exhaustion, thereby affecting quality and safety of patient care, new research has found.

“Twelve-hour shifts are relatively common in some countries in Europe; nonetheless, these longer shifts are associated with more reports of burnout, dissatisfaction with work schedule flexibility, and intention to leave,” the study said.

“This study adds to a growing body of evidence showing that the organisation of shift work in many hospitals may be putting both patients and staff at risk,” one of the study authors Peter Griffiths, professor at University of Southampton in Britain said.

The study examined survey results from a sample of more than 31,000 nurses based across 12 countries in Europe.

The researchers found that nurses who had worked more than 12 hours on their last shift were 50 percent more likely to be dissatisfied with their job, than nurses working an eight hour shifts.

Health managers have increasingly favoured 12 hour nursing shifts believing they improve efficiency by reducing the number of shift handovers.

Nurses too were believed to prefer them because they allowed them to compress the working week, leaving more day’s off-work, reducing commuting costs and allowing more flexibility.

But these findings raise serious concerns over higher burnout rates which may pose a risk to the quality and safety of patient care.

The study was published in the online journal BMJ One.

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