• Study
  • Published September 2014

Nurses' shift length and overtime working in 12 European countries: the association with perceived quality of care and patient safety.

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Although 12-hour nursing shifts are common in the United States, this study found that only 15% of European nurses worked 12 hours or more. Similar to prior research, longer nursing shifts were associated with lower quality of care and compromised patient safety. This study also found that nurses working extended shifts reported more care left undone. Nurses who worked overtime, even if shift length was less than 10 hours, described similar concerns. The authors warn that policies to adopt standard 12-hour nursing shifts as a cost-effective way of maintaining nurse–patient ratios may contribute to burnout. A past AHRQ WebM&M interview with Barbara Blakeney discussed the importance of proper nursing staffing for patient safety, and a prior AHRQ WebM&M commentary examines the complexities around balancing nurse staffing and workload.

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