Impact of worked hours on medication errors and sick absences: A quality improvement project

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The Ohio State University

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Nursing is a mentally and physically demanding profession. Nurses are working long hours affecting patient care and nurse outcomes. Evidence demonstrates a correlation between worked hours greater than twelve-hour shifts and adverse events. The purpose of this quality improvement project was to implement eight-hour shifts and evaluate the impact of worked hours on nurse administration medication errors and sick absences. Based on the evidence, a three-month pilot in an acute care setting augmented the standard scheduling practice of twelve-hour shifts to include eight-hour shifts. Pre-implementation, 96% of the nurses were working twelve-hour shifts. Through volunteers and unit leadership support, post-implementation, 42% of the nurses were working a combination of eight and twelve-hour shifts or straight eight-hour shifts. The implementation of eight-hour shifts revealed the percent of nurse administration medication errors pre-implementation was 0.016% and post-implementation was 0.015% (p = .83). The percent of sick absences pre-implementation was 12% and post-implementation was 9.3%; a decrease of 22% (p = .36). While the findings did not establish statistical significance, the results prove to be clinically meaningful. There is evidence to mitigate long worked hours. A longer implementation in a non-pandemic state is needed to illustrate greater impact on patient and nurse outcomes.



worked hours, eight-hour shifts, twelve-hour shifts, nurse administration medication errors, sick absences