A study of newly-qualified nurses in the US has found they are at greater risk of suffering injuries if they work longer shifts, more overtime and at night.
The study, by researchers from the New York University College of Nursing, involved 1,744 newly-registered nurses from 35 US states.
“Registered nurses across the globe bear a heavy injury burden”
It found that 79% of the study participants worked 12-hour shifts. In addition, 44% worked night shifts and 61% worked overtime – either mandatory or voluntary – on a weekly basis.
Nurses working weekly overtime were associated with a 32% increase in the risk of a needle stick, said the researchers in the International Journal of Nursing Studies.
They also found that nurses working night shift were associated with a 16% increase in the risk of a sprain or strain injury.
The study authors said: “Overtime and night shift work were significantly associated with increased injury risk in newly-licensed nurses independent of other work factors and demographic characteristics.
“The findings warrant further study given the long-term consequences of these injuries, costs associated with treatment, and loss of worker productivity,” they added.
The researchers noted that registered nurses “across the globe bear a heavy injury burden”.
“Every shift, nurses are exposed to a variety of hazards that can jeopardize their health, which negatively impacts their ability to provide high-quality patient care,” they said.
As revealed earlier this week by a review for NHS England, there has been an increase in the use of 12-hour nursing shifts in the UK.
The study reported that 12-hour shifts have become more prevalent in the NHS – 31% of staff nurses on wards reported working 12-hour shifts in 2005 compared with 52% in 2009.
It also suggested that nurses working 12-hour shifts were at increased risk of occupational hazards including needle stick injuries and musculoskeletal disorders.