Nurses Rally in Florida to Warn About the Dangers of Fatigued Healthcare Workers

Posted on September 02, 2015 by Shapiro Law Group

A small coalition of Florida nurses recently gathered to protest long hours and poor patient safety policies. Nurses with the Doctors Hospital of Sarasota are claiming they are understaffed, which puts patients at risk for medical mistakes. The nurses claim that over the last eight weeks, 103 patient meals have been missed because they are not staffed well enough to provide adequate care.

Research from the American Nurses Association (ANA) shows that prolonged work hours and little amounts of rest can have a negative impact on work performance and patient outcomes. Fatigue can cause a diminished capacity for problem solving and may contribute to medical mistakes.

In a 2004 study in the medical journal Health Affairs, it was discovered that nurses who worked 12.5 hours or longer were three times more likely to commit medical mistakes. An additional study in the American Journal of Critical Care found fatigued nurses were more likely to regret prior medical decisions.

How Can Medical Mistakes Involving Fatigued Nurses Be Prevented?

A higher risk of medical mistakes has caused the ANA to suggest new guidelines for hospitals. The guidelines recommend limiting shifts to 12 hours and workweeks to 40 hours. The ANA has also suggested consecutive nightshifts should be kept to a minimum throughout the week.

Hospitals may benefit from providing sleep rooms for healthcare workers. Sleep rooms would allow nurses and other healthcare workers breaks in between shifts, improving patient safety.

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Tags: Nursing


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