Effects Of Fatigue On Nurses And Patient Safety

1587 Words Nov 13th, 2014 7 Pages
Fighting Nurse Fatigue Since the early days of nursing when nurses would work extended shifts and even lived on the wards where they worked, nurse fatigue has been a much discussed issue. During the late 1800s and into the early 1900s, workers spanning several industries fought for the eight hour work day and eventually won with the passage of the US Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938 (Miller, 2011). In the years since then, the extended shift has again become popular, particularly in the field of nursing. Though many nurses and organizations laud twelve hour shifts as beneficial to staffing needs and personal lives, the risks to patient and nurse safety must be considered.
Effects of Nurse Fatigue
Merriam-Webster (2014) describes fatigue
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My mother, an RN for over 20 years, has experienced firsthand the effects of fatigue caused by extended hours. In 2008, after working a twelve hour night shift followed by a mandatory staff meeting she fell asleep at the wheel and her SUV collided with a parked car on a busy residential street. Luckily, no one in this particular incident sustained severe injuries, but that is not always the case. In the Institutes of Medicine (IOM) report Keeping Patients Safe: Transforming the Work Environment of Nurses (2004), the effect of being awake for more than 17 hours is equal to that of having a blood alcohol level of 0.05 percent, which some consider the level of intoxication.
A Return to Eight Hour Shifts
In an effort to decrease fatigue and its effects on nurse and patient safety, I propose a return to eight hour shifts. Force field analysis (Yoder-Wise, 2011) will help to identify barriers and facilitators related to the suggested change. Strategies to minimize resistance will be utilized in order to improve acceptance and success of the proposition.
A large portion of the nursing population is aging and have been forced to postpone retirement due to economic stress. They are not able to tolerate extended shifts as easily as they once were, and it is speculated that older nurses would be early adopters of a return to an eight hour shift
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