Healthcare Worker Fatigue and Patient Safety

Written by
March 28th, 2012

The Joint Commission (not-for-profit organization that accredits health care organizations) recently published a Sentinel Event Alert discussing healthcare worker fatigue and patient safety. 

We can all think about a personal experience where fatigue has impacted one or more of our performance behaviors resulting from insufficient quality or inadequate sleep.  Research clearly documents mental overexertion can lead to any number of the following:

  • memory lapses
  • delayed judgment
  • diminished reaction time
  • lapses in attention or inability to stay focused
  • ineffective communication
  • irritability
  • lack of motivation

For years Department of Transportation has implemented requirements on the hours of service for specific commercial driver classifications.  In 2007 and 2009 Joint Commission released studies that revealed impact effect of fatigue and patient care.  The hyperlink also offers a link to these studies.

Joint Commission offers several evidence based actions healthcare organizations can use to help mitigate the risks of fatigue and promote quality of care.  Contact R&R Insurance if you would like additional information for your risk management department, human resource department, safety committee or quality improvement committee on this or other employee safety concerns.

What do you considered an “at risk” activity that staff is required to perform when working extended shifts?


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