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Hawaii nurses might make serious mistakes if fatigued

A good night's sleep is often said to be the key to good health and a well-functioning body. Some jobs, however, require a person to remain awake for extensive periods of time. Those who serve as nurses in Hawaii and elsewhere have jobs that fall into this category. An increasing concern has been voiced by some who feel that fatigue can lead to nursing negligence and potentially serious mistakes.

The American Nurses Association has recently begun to address the issue of risks associated with nurse fatigue by reaching out to employers across the nation with advice on ways to reduce those risks. One operating room nurse claimed that it is common for him to pull a 17 hour shift. He further recalled one instance when he worked for a full 23 hours without sleep. Most would agree that this would seem to place a nurse at obvious risk for extreme tiredness, thereby endangering patients who could possibly be harmed if a fatigued nurse were to commit error while caring for them.

Nowadays, it is common for nurses to travel from hospital to hospital. Therefore, long hours of driving are sometimes added to long hours of working. One travel nurse mentioned the fact that pilots and truck drivers are regulated with regard to how many hours they are permitted to remain on the job at one time. Some hospital officials are recommending the ANA adapt similar regulations for nurses.

A study published a few years ago concluded that nurses who pull shifts longer than 12.5 hours at a time are three times more likely to make mistakes in patient care. Error in dispensing medication or failing to pass on pertinent patient information to another nurse are two of the potential dangers associated with extreme nursing fatigue. Such error could lead to patient injury, illness or even death. If a patient in Hawaii (or the surviving family of a deceased patient) believes that his or her injury or illness was caused by nursing or hospital negligence, he or she has a right to consult an attorney in order to consider pursuing a medical malpractice claim against the party deemed negligent.

Source: USA Today, "Nurses seek to reduce long hours and fatigue", Laura Ungar, Feb. 01, 2015

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