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Long Work Hours Leading to Increased Medication Errors

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Study Links Long Hours to Increased Errors | Top
References | Study Links Long Hours to Increased Errors In 2005, the American Nurses Association House of Delegates resolved to disseminate recent research findings on the relationship between work hours, fatigue and errors. Dr. Ann Rogers presented the results of her study “The Working Hours of Hospital Staff Nurses and Patient Safety” published in Health Affairs, July/August 2004. Her study followed 393 registered nurses working over 5,317 shifts. Each nurse tracked hours worked, time of day worked, overtime, days off, sleep/wake patterns, errors and near misses. According to Dr. Rogers, fatigue results in: * Forgetfulness * Slowed reaction time * Diminished decision making * Reduced vigilance * Apathy, lethargy * Impaired communication.
Delivery of health care requires higher cognitive functions – judgment, logic, complex decision-making, memory, vigilance, information management and communication skills. Fatigued workers try ineffective solutions to problems and neglect activities deemed non-essential. Sleep research indicates that most people need at 7.5-8 hour of sleep each night. Nurses in the study averaged 6.8 hours of sleep. Long hours, and the impact of competing priorities in personal lives impact getting adequate rest prior to working. In more than half the shifts, nurses were unable to take breaks due to shift demands. Findings included correlation among work duration, overtime, number of hours worked and reported errors and near errors. Regardless of the scheduled shift length, overtime increased the odds of reporting error, but the risks significantly increased when overtime followed a twelve-hour shift. On average, nurses worked about 55 minutes longer than scheduled each day, and all participants...

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