Nurses were three times more likely to commit an error when they worked 12.5-hour shifts or longer compared with nurses working shifts of up to 8.5 hours, according to a study involving 393 registered nurses by the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.
Nurses worked at least 12.5 consecutive hours in 2,057 shifts, or about 40% of those studied. They were involved in at least one error during 103 of the long shifts and at least one near error during 94 of those shifts.
Only 12 of the 771 shifts of 8.5 hours or less involved errors, and 20 of those shifts involved near errors, according to the study. Among the 2,484 shifts that lasted 8.5 hours to 12.5 hours, 77 and 95 involved errors and near errors, respectively.
The study's results appear in the July/August Health Affairs. Read an abstract.