Episode #77: Insights on Nurse Fatigue, the Impact on Nursing and Patient Safety, and What You Can Do with Dr. Linda D. Scott
“Just like water and food we need sleep, and so every time we lose it we jeopardize our own health and the health of others”- Dr. Linda D. Scott
In this episode it was a delight to interview Dr. Linda Scott, the Dean of Nursing at University of Wisconsin-Madison about her research on nursing fatigue and the impact on safety.
Early in the interview Dr. Scott shares she was motivated to embark on such important research when the To Err is Human was published by the Institute of Medicine in 1999 and reported there were almost 100,000 deaths associated with preventable errors. At that time Linda says it was clear there was a gap in scientific evidence regarding the number of nurse work hours and the relationship to making errors.
Dr. Scott reveals her initial studies showed nurses worked long shifts and worked overtime regularly and the risk for error tripled when working more than 12 hours and doubled when working overtime beyond any shift and that errors increased when nurses had insufficient sleep. These initial studies demonstrated the need to learn more about work related fatigue and the potential impact on patient safety.
Dr. Scott explains when people are awake for a consecutive number of hours you can see some of the same neuro- bio-behavioral affects as you would with intoxication, as an example when you are awake for more than 15 hours it’s like having a blood alcohol level of .05.
During the interview she shares when you have a sleep deficit you can’t get it back and for every hour of sleep lost the risk for making an error increases by 7%.
Dr. Scott explains what decision regret means and how it is related to fatigue and sleep deficits and is a personal and professional well-being issue.
The research studies are transferrable to other health professions. There are other research studies looking at physicians and other ancillary staff as well as other safety critical positions.
It was also noted during the interview that there is no regulatory oversight on hours in the United States for health professions.
Dr. Scott reveals there are recommendations coming from other industries that reflect nursing and other health professions and could inform the healthcare sector.
You probably already realize this is a phenomenal and eye-opening interview. Go ahead and listen now!
Visit the show notes here for more:
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