It is not difficult to figure out that nurses have tough schedules. Hospitals are open around the clock, so nurses need to be available, too.
In most hospitals, nurses are constantly having to adjust and readjust to rotating schedules. It is the hospital’s way of making coverage for less desirable shifts “fair.” Additionally, nurses often work extra shifts to cover for sick coworkers or understaffed facilities.
When nurses become exhausted, however, it can have a serious impact on safety and the quality of care for patients. Here’s what you should know about the risks of tired nurses.
Why are nurses so tired?
Hospital staffing is difficult. Administrators try to accommodate nurse requests while keeping enough staff to support the changing needs of incoming patients. In many cases, administrators and other supervisors offer incentives to nurses who are willing to cover extra shifts.
For most nurses, helping comes naturally. Whether they are faced with patients or supervisors, they want to provide support where they can. Unfortunately, nurses often agree to help with shortages without considering the impact extra shifts will have on their level of fatigue.
What happens when nurses are overtired?
In most jobs, if an employee is overtired and makes a mistake, it is relatively simple to remedy. When nurses are overtired, a mistake could reach many areas of patient care, including:
- Missed charting
- Overlooked symptoms
- Lack of communication between staff
- Incorrect treatment administration
There may be many reasons a nurse might make an error, but fatigue is a common one. During your stay in the hospital, you can support your care team by double-checking for errors and reminding staff, if they seem forgetful.