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[IWS] Circadian: FATIGUED NURSES: ASSESSING THE RISK, IMPLEMENTING THE DEFENSES
IWS Documented News Service
Institute for Workplace Studies-----------------Professor Samuel B. Bacharach
School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies
16 East 34th Street, 4th floor--------------------Stuart Basefsky
New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau
This service is supported, in part, by donations. Please consider making a donation by following the instructions at http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/iws/news-bureau/support.html
FATIGUED NURSES: ASSESSING THE RISK, IMPLEMENTING THE DEFENSES
by Anneke Heitmann, Ph.D. and Andrew Moore-Ede
[full-text, 16 pages]
Sleep deprivation and fatigue are an ever-present challenge for health care workers. Thus far,
most of the attention has been paid to sleep-deprived resident physicians and their increased risks
of diagnostic errors, needlestick injuries and complications in post-surgical patients, which culminated
in the 2011 decision by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education to limit resident
duty hours. However, fatigue represents a similar high-risk occupational health and safety
exposure for nurses.
Many factors are converging today to increase fatigue risks and costs in the nursing profession, and
the need to address nurse fatigue has never been more urgent. The increasing cognitive skill demands
of medical technology, the rapidly expanding patient loads resulting from the enactment of national
health care, and the need to retain experienced nurses in the workforce make addressing fatigue, and
sustaining nurse alertness and job performance around-the–clock, a vitally important issue.
Recognizing the dangers of nurse fatigue, an increasing number of US states have introduced legislation
to control mandatory overtime for nurses. But these laws alone do not solve the problem of
fatigue. Fatigue needs to be managed both at the organizational and at the individual level.
Recently, a number of nursing policy papers and position statements have urged nurse employers to
adopt sound comprehensive fatigue risk management practices. And while many nurse managers
and hospital administrators recognize the inherent value of implementing such policies and
practices, they are faced with the practical questions of what to do and where to begin.
This white paper will provide nursing directors and nurse managers with a practical road map
on how to address fatigue risks in their nurses and other employees. We will outline how to conduct
a fatigue risk assessment, so managers can better understand how fatigue impacts their nursing
staff and identify the fatigue risks that need to be addressed.
And we will share well-established and scientifically-validated fatigue management practices that
are increasingly used across other shiftwork occupations in 24/7 industries.
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