Monday, December 19, 2011

Fatigue and Patient Safety

How fatigue in health care workers can cause a decrease in patient safety is probably not news to you. A number of studies show that extended work hours contributes to high levels of fatigue and reduced productivity.

Of course, fatigue means inadequate amount of sleep or insufficient quality of sleep over an extended period. When it comes to health care workers (those that take care of YOU), what exactly can fatigue cause?

-memory lapses
-lapses in attention and inability to stay focused
-reduced motivation
-impaired communication
-diminished reaction time
-indifference and loss of empathy
-compromised problem solving

According to The Joint Commission, “findings from a groundbreaking 2004 study of 393 nurses over more than 5,300 shifts – the first in a series of studies of nurse fatigue and patient safety – showed that nurses who work shifts of 12.5 hours or longer are three times more likely to make an error in patient care. Additional studies show that longer shift length increased the risk of errors and close calls and were associated with decreased vigilance, and that nurses suffer higher rates of occupational injury when working shifts in excess of 12 hours.”


At Snyder & Wenner we strive to keep the community safe when hospital care is involved. We have become patient safety advocates by representing patients who have been harmed from hospital error. If you know someone who has been seriously harmed from a hospital error please feel free to contact us. The Snyder & Wenner website can be accessed by clicking the "Patient Safety Advocates" tab above.

Snyder and Wenner, P.C.

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