Why are hospital staff trained to work 12-24 hour shifts whereas most other occupations work 9-5 pm?

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Why are hospital staff trained to work 12-24 hour shifts whereas most other occupations work 9-5 pm?

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Unlike most workplaces, hospitals require absolutely continuous coverage. You can’t tell the patient “sorry you can’t breathe, someone will be in at 9am to help you.”

There’s never enough staff to cover rotating 8 hour shifts, so they all have to pull 12-24 hours.

There is a ton of information about patients that needs to be passed from one shift to the next. This takes a good chunk of time, during which both the outgoing and incoming staffers aren’t proving patient care. And, during hand-offs there are always going to be some details that get overlooked; hopefully nothing major, but minor things that still might make patient care better. For both these reasons, its better when there are fewer shift changes.

Hospitals need to run 24/7, and improves continuity of care by having fewer shift changes in the middle of procedures, etc and less time where staff on duty need to debrief new shift coming on. Also, makes for 14 shifts a week vs. 21 so that makes for easier/more consistent scheduling.