Study Shows That Nurses’ Long Shifts May Put Hospital Patients At Risk

Virginia residents should be aware that a recent study has shown that patients in hospitals where nurses work long hours are much more likely to die of pneumonia and heart attack. In most U.S. hospitals, nurses work 12-hour shifts exclusively, a trend that began during the 1980’s due to nationwide nursing shortages, the authors of the new study explained. The study went on to state that although many nurses like these schedules because of the compressed nature of the work week, the long schedule, as well as shift work in general, leads to sleep deprivation. “Alertness and vigilance required for providing good nursing care depend upon having an adequate duration of quality sleep and rest, and long work hours can impact the quality of nursing care and can increase the potential for error,” an author of the study stated. “Nursing work hours may also be increasing to compensate for decreasing physician work hours in hospitals because the medical profession has taken steps to limit the hours a physician-in-training may work, whereas nursing has not taken similar steps,” the author added. Along with long work hours, the work schedule factor most frequently linked with patient deaths was lack of time off the job.

The law firm of Pierce & Thornton specializes in medical malpractice litigation throughout North Carolina and Virginia, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton have nearly 50 years of combined experience in litigating all types of medical malpractice cases, including those involving nursing malpractice. They have obtained some of the largest jury verdicts and mediation settlements in Virginia over the past several years. We encourage you to contact our firm if you question the medical care rendered to you, a family member, or friend. If we can help you, we will. Your consultation is free.