Nursing Overtime: Why, How Much, and Under What Working Conditions?

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY▸ To provide the best care to patients, the physical wellness of nursing staff is essential.▸ Current evidence indicates long work hours can lead to adverse nurse and patient outcomes.▸ To provide quality and safe patient care, both staff nurses and nurse managers need to recognize the adverse effects of overtime, whether it is mandatory or voluntary.▸ Results of this study showed overtime was not used more when there was an increase in nursing shortages.▸ Further, overtime was not used to control shortages; rather, understaffing was an underlying condition of the nursing practice, at least in the study sample.▸ Thus, efforts must be made not only to prevent nurses from working long hours, but also to resolve the problem of under-staffing in order to retain qualified nurses in hospitals.

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