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Okla Nurse. 2005 Dec-2006 Feb;50(4):7-8.

Oklahoma Nurses Association 2005 House of Delegates resolution. Implications of fatigue on patient safety.


The ANA 2005 House of Delegates resolved to disseminate recent research findings of the relationship between work hours, fatigue and errors. During the House, Dr. Ann Rogers presented the, results of her study "The Working Hours of Hospital Staff Nurses and Patient Safety" published in Affairs, July/August 2004. Her study followed 393 registered nurses working over 5,317 shifts. Each nurse tracked hours worked, time of dayworked, overtime, days off, sleep/wake patterns, errors and near misses. Findings included correlation between work duration, overtime and number of hours worked, on reported errors and near errors. Regardless of the scheduled shift length, overtime increased the odds of reporting error, but the risks significantly increased when overtime followed a twelve-hour shift. Responsibilities for patient safety and fatigue rest with the individual nurse as well as employers. It is the responsibility of the nurse to obtain adequate sleep prior to coming to work, use caffeine judiciously and plan work toassure appropriate rest breaks. While it is the responsibility of the employing agency to provide for staffing, nurses should work collaboratively with managers and within their team to assure an appropriate schedule. Nurses have to make decisions about the total number of hours they work, and in the event of working voluntary overtime, it is the nurse's responsibility to assess the cumulative effects of long hours, and plan a schedule that assures our responsibility provide safe, effective care.

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