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Nursing News: Is Working Night Shift a Health Risk?

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, February 4th, 2014

“There is still plenty to be concerned about regarding shift work,” said Jeanne M. Geiger-Brown of the University of Maryland School of Nursing in Baltimore.

“The problem with shift rotation is that the period between two successive shifts can be shorter than the equivalent number of hours on a day off between the same shift,” she said. “However, night shifts are difficult, no matter whether rotating or permanent.”

In addition to the potential health risks for nurses who work night shifts, sleepiness at work can lead to accidents or harm for their patients, said Geiger-Brown, who studies nursing, fatigue and cognition. “Whether rotating or permanent, shift work can be detrimental to health, and the lifetime duration to shift work should be kept as low as possible,” she says.

Other studies have tied shift work to chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

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