Scholars Urge That Administrators Take Steps to Reduce Fatigue Among Nurses

Linda Scott, dean of the School of Nursing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has conducted extensive research on how fatigue can affect the performance of nurses. She is one of several co-authors of a new position paper that argues that nurses and their employers need to educate themselves on the health and safety risks associated with fatigue brought on by long and often stressful shifts. The paper calls on healthcare administrators to design schedules and policies that promote a rested and alert workforce.

Dean Scott’s explains that “the risk of error doubles once you’ve worked more than eight consecutive hours, and nurses who worked 12 consecutive hours or more were 3.5 times more likely to make an error.” The authors recommend that like airline pilots and truck drivers, nurses should have hours-of-service rules that provide adequate breaks.

“We have confirmed there is a significant amount of sleep debt among nurses, and the greater the sleep debt the more likely there were to be errors,” Dr. Scott says. “We have shown that fatigue countermeasures — education on sleep and sleep environment, combined with good scheduling and letting nurses nap — improves overall sleep and decreases errors.”

Dr. Scott has been dean at the University of Wisconsin since 2016. Previously she served as the associate dean for academic affairs at the College of Nursing of University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Scott is a graduate of Michigan State University. She holds a master’s degree in nursing administration from Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, and a Ph.D. in nursing from the University of Michigan.

The position paper, “Reducing Fatigue Associated With Sleep Deficiency and Work Hours in Nurses,” was published in the journal Nursing Outlook. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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