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News » Nurses’ longer workweeks raise patient safety concerns

Nurses’ longer workweeks raise patient safety concerns

WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES — Nurses in America are working longer hours compared to just a few years ago, according to a recent federal survey, raising concerns about potential risks to patient safety and nurse well-being.

The National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses, conducted annually by the Health Resources and Services Administration and the U.S. Census Bureau, revealed that nurses’ average workweeks increased by 84 minutes between 2018 and 2022.

Younger nurses see biggest increase in workweek hours

The survey data, collected from 49,234 registered nurses in 2022 and early 2023, showed that the average workweek for nurses rose from 37.5 hours in 2018 to 38.9 hours in 2022. 

The median weekly hours also increased from 39.1 to 39.3 during the same period. 

Notably, nurses aged 35 to 44 reported the largest increase, with their average workweek jumping by two hours to 39.2 hours. 

Additionally, Black nurses reported the longest average workweeks in 2022 at 40.9 hours, followed by Hispanic nurses at 39.8 hours. 

Nurse fatigue leading to poor healthcare delivery

While longer workweeks may benefit healthcare facilities facing staffing shortages, experts warn of potential risks to patient safety and nurse well-being. 

Numerous studies have linked fatigue and excessive work hours to increased medical errors, impaired decision-making, and a higher risk of workplace injuries among healthcare professionals. 

The American Nurses Association has advocated for limiting nurses’ work hours to no more than 12 in a 24-hour period and discouraging overtime or extra shifts that could lead to fatigue-related errors. 

Read more here.

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