Is Overtime Causing Patient Dissatisfaction at Your Hospital?

I recently presented a webinar titled, “How Overtime May Be Harming Your Business and Patients,” where I had the opportunity to share research findings that connect overtime to patient dissatisfaction. Polling during the webinar revealed that there may be a major disconnect between what the research shows and how healthcare leaders feel overtime impacts their hospital.  Let’s walk through the research and examine the disconnect.

Overtime leads to nurse dissatisfaction.

Both common sense and the research point to a simple truth: long shifts lead to nurse burnout and staff dissatisfaction. For example, nurses who work shifts of 13+ hours are 2.7 times more likely to be burnt out, 2.38 times more likely to be dissatisfied with their jobs and 2.57 times more likely to leave their job in the next year compared to nurses who work 8-9 hours.1

Overtime that leads to nurse dissatisfaction leads to patient dissatisfaction.

Research also tells us there is a direct link between OT and patient satisfaction. For example, when nurses work more than 13 hours, patients are more likely to score a hospital 6 or lower out of 10 on the HCAHPS survey.2 And, another study shows that the percentage of patients who would “definitely recommend” a hospital to their loved ones decreased 2 percent for every 10 percent of nurses who expressed dissatisfaction with their jobs.3

Not everyone has made the connection for their hospital, their employees and their patients.
Before I presented the research findings about the connection between overtime and patient dissatisfaction, we polled the webinar attendees. Here’s what those results look like:

Has overtime been identified as a root cause of patient dissatisfaction in your hospital/health system?
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Clearly, these polling results are very different from the research. So, what’s next?

While patient satisfaction has always been an important part of healthcare delivery, it’s gaining in importance. The move from fee-for-service to pay-for-performance, as well as an increased ability for patients to comparison shop, is putting patient satisfaction in the spotlight.

With patient satisfaction a top priority for the majority of health systems, it’s important to ask more questions and dig a little deeper to determine how overtime is impacting your health system. To learn more about the potential negative effects of overtime, please read the white paper, “Unveiling Overtime’s Total Costs: How OT May Be Harming Your Business and Your Patients.”


1Stimpfl, Amy, et al. The Longer the Shifts for Hospital Nurses, The Higher the Levels of Burnout and Patient Dissatisfaction. Health Affairs, 31, no.11 (2012): 2501-2509.


3McHugh, Matthew et al. “Nurses’ Widespread Job Dissatisfaction, Burnout and Frustration with Health Benefits Signal Problems for Patient Care.” Health Affairs, 30, no.2 (2011): 202-210.



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