Patient Safety - The effect of nurse fatigue

Sunday, 17 November 2013: 3:25 PM

Marianne Hess, RN, BSN
George Washington University Hospital, Washington, DC

Unfortunately, adverse events in the hospital setting can be a frequent occurance.  And in spite of numerous safety initiatives such as "time outs" for operative site verification and improved infection prevention, adverse events are still occurring.  Is nurse fatigue a contributing factor to these errors and injuries? And if so, what can nurses and management do to not only promote and improve the well-being of the patient but also to promote and improve the well-being of nurses themselves?  Since 2006, the American Nurses Association (ANA) has had position statements for both the nurse and employer concerning nurse fatigue.  Because fatigue can affect the ability to focus and problem solve, both nurses and employers are encouraged to adopt strategies to ward off fatigue such as improving staffing schedules and eliminating mandatory overtime.  And yet, many have not heeded this information.  In the meanwhile, medical errors continue to be a major occurence in patient care. Nurses serve a vital role in the health of individuals.  And an essential aspect in this care is to maintain patient safety.  As nurses we must take responsibility for how our behavior and actions contribute to patient outcomes.  Additionally, we must ensure that we and other healthcare providers are educated on how our direct patient care can affect patient outcomes.