Fatigue-Related Risks

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Fatigue-Related Risks

Nurses who work more than a 12-hour shift are at risk for error or injury

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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The correlation between medical staff fatigue and decreasing patient safety is well-documented and has prompted the Joint Commission to issue a Sentinel Alert along with concrete suggestions to avoid unnecessary risks.

A 2007 article from The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety reported that residents working recurrent 24-hour shifts and nurses who worked more than 12-hour shifts were involved in three times as many fatigue-related, preventable adverse events. Workers in these categories are also more likely to experience-on-the job injuries. The current alert is a follow-up to the 2007 article.
    
The commission asks healthcare organizations to avoid the risks of extended work days and cumulative days of extended hours by doing the following:

•    Assess fatigue-related risks such as off-shift hours, consecutive shift work and staffing levels.
•    Assess procedures when patients’ care is transitioning from one caregiver to another, a period of risk in itself and compounded by fatigue.
•    Seek staff input on design of work schedules to minimize fatigue.
•    Implement scientific strategies for fighting fatigue, such as caffeine, physical activity, short naps and timely conversation.
•    Undertake staff education about good sleep habits at home and the link to patient safety.
•    Encourage teamwork to support double-checking in the case of complex patients or tasks.
•    Ensure that employees have break areas conducive to rest.

This article is from workingnurse.com.

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