Unpacking the Connection: Shift Length for Nurses and Fall Frequency in Nursing Homes

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Unpacking the Connection: Shift Length for Nurses and Fall Frequency in Nursing Homes

Ah, the classic 12-hour nursing shift—But have you ever stopped to think what impact these lengthy shifts have on patient safety? Specifically, how do they influence the frequency of falls in nursing homes?

The Standard 12-Hour Shift: A Blessing or a Curse?

Many nurses swear by the 12-hour shift. Working three days a week with four days off? It sounds almost idyllic. But like most things in life, there’s another side to this coin. Nurses are humans, not robots. And humans get tired, especially after an exhausting 12-hour workday. Fatigue inevitably creeps in, which can compromise patient safety and increase the likelihood of falls in nursing homes.

Why Falls Are Such a Big Deal

A fall might not seem like a monumental event in your everyday life, but in a nursing home, it’s a red flag. Falls often result in fractures or other serious injuries that are particularly hazardous for older adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of five falls causes severe harm like broken bones or head trauma. This is why adequate staffing is crucial in preventing falls, and why the length of a nurse’s shift matters so much.

The Research Says…

Studies have suggested that nurses working shifts longer than 12 hours are more likely to report adverse events, including falls. A study published in the journal “Health Affairs” found that longer shifts were associated with a 7% increased risk of reporting adverse outcomes. So, it’s not just hocus-pocus; there’s solid scientific evidence behind it.

The Ripple Effect of Fatigue

Let’s face it, fatigue doesn’t operate in a vacuum; it sets off a ripple effect. It compromises decision-making, blurs focus, and dulls reflexes. Imagine you’re a nurse who’s clocked in 10+ hours. Even if you’re Superman, your level of alertness isn’t going to be the same as hour one. Fatigue, my friends, can be a silent but lethal enemy, especially in a setting requiring constant vigilance like a nursing home.



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Sanga Turnbull

Sanga Turnbull is the founder and principal attorney at The Turnbull Law Firm, a Florida law firm helping personal injury victims in Winter Haven and Orlando recover compensation for harm done to them by the negligence of others. The comprehensive personal injury practice at The Turnbull Firm includes all manner of motor vehicle accidents, nursing home neglect and abuse, slip and fall, workplace and industrial accidents, medical malpractice, catastrophic injury, wrongful death, and more. Injury victims or their families are invited to call The Turnbull Firm for a no-cost, confidential consultation about any potential claims they may have.