It is common knowledge that people who are tired cannot think clearly, use their best judgment, or make sound decisions. For this reason, authorities have warned motorists to pull off the road when they are tired because drowsy driving is a main cause of accidents. Much in the same way, drowsy workers can make mistakes that can have serious consequences—affecting innocent lives.
In the healthcare industry, many doctors, nurses, and pharmacists work long hours and fight fatigue on the job. Sadly, healthcare worker fatigue in Pennsylvania has been cited as a factor in over 1,600 adverse events and 37 harmful events, including four patient deaths, according to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Advisory released this month. The errors related to fatigue between June 2004 and August 2013 resulted in:
- 995 medication errors
- 422 errors related to treatments, procedures or tests
- 184 other errors
According to the report, 1,564 incidents were either near misses or events that did not cause patients harm. “The most common medication errors made involving healthcare worker fatigue were wrong dose given, dose omission, and extra dose given,” stated Theresa V. Arnold, DPM, manager of clinical analysis for the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority. While most patients didn’t suffer harm, there were still 37 innocent patients who were harmed as a result of healthcare worker fatigue. For this reason, it is critical to reduce events related to fatigue.
Importance of Reducing Healthcare Worker Fatigue
When healthcare workers experience fatigue, they suffer from exhaustion, lack of energy, and physical and mental impairments. Unfortunately, they are not at their best when they are fighting to stay awake. As a result, working while drowsy can lead to patient harm. For this reason, it is important to put a stop to healthcare worker fatigue. Some ways hospitals can do this include:
- Limiting the hours worked
- Not allowing workers to work overtime or more than a 12-hour shift
- Developing a fatigue and risk management system
If you have been harmed as a result of a medication error, fill out our confidential form on our website, or call us and we will review your case for free.