Nurses should be able to reject shifts to prevent fatigue risks, ANA states

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Registered nurses should have more control over scheduling in order to reduce the risk of fatigued workers, according to a new position statement from the American Nurses Association.

Employers should take nurse input into account when creating schedules, and these should be “regular and predictable,” the recommendations state. If an RN feels that working a particular shift would be dangerous due to fatigue, he or she should be able to reject that work assignment without reprisal or “negative consequences.”

Nurses and employers must work together to address the issue of fatigue, the ANA emphasized. This new position paper replaces two separate papers from 2006, which addressed nurses and employers separately.

The association also is calling for 40-hour maximum work weeks and 12-hour maximum shift lengths.

“We're concerned not only with greater likelihood for errors, diminished problem solving, slower reaction time and other performance deficits related to fatigue, but also with dangers posed to nurses' own health,” ANA President Pamela F. Cipriano, Ph.D., RN, stated in a Nov. 19 press release.

The ANA says the “evidence-based” recommendations are based on recent research.

Irregular shifts have been of increasing concern, with the issue garnering recent media attention and prompting federal legislation that would put limits on how workers are scheduled.