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Nurse fatigue can be dangerous for patients

In the United States there are six nurses for every medical doctor which means that nurses spend much more time with patients than doctors do. For most Pittsburgh residents it means that they receive excellent care while they are in the hospital. But many nurses are overworked and overtired and can easily make medical mistakes. Surgical errors that occur because nurses are fatigued can be fatal for a patient.

Many nurses in the United States are overworked. These nurses typically work long shifts of 12 hours or more with little breaks. Because nurses are so critical in patient care they can suffer from extreme stress and fatigue. With this fatigue, can come medical errors that can sometimes be fatal for patients. Critical care nurses, especially, can suffer from this fatigue and make mistakes. Often their patients are taking 15 or more medications in a 12 hour span and nurses need to be alert enough to make sure that these medications are administered properly.

The American Nurses Association has offered recommendations on how health care facilities can reduce nurse fatigue. These include limiting shifts to 12 hours or fewer and weekly hours to 40 hours or fewer. Healthcare facilities should also eliminate mandatory overtime, keep consecutive night shifts to a minimum and provide sleep rooms for exhausted employees.

Nurses are critical to patient care and their work contributes greatly to a patient’s outcome. It is very important that nurses receive the rest and recuperation they need to continue to provide good care for all patients.

Additionally, when nursing errors cause injuries and fatalities, people should remember that they have legal rights. An attorney can help people know when they have a medical malpractice or wrongful death claim.

Source: USA Today, “Nurses seek to reduce long hours and fatigue“, Laura Ungar, Feb. 1, 2015