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Exhausted medical staff

It’s a reasonable expectation that medical staff be well rested and fit for work, considering the critical, urgent and vital decisions that are made in hospitals. Being fatigued can endanger not only their lives but also those of their patients.

Recent results from an audit conducted by the Australian Medical Association has revealed fatigue-related statistics for doctors including:

  • One in two doctors (53%) are still working rosters that put them at significant and higher risk of fatigue to the extent that it could impact on performance,
    affect the health of the doctor and the safety of the patient
  • The number of interns working in the higher risk category has also increased by 11% in 2016 compared with the previous 2011 report.

The 2016 audit confirms that doctors at higher risk of fatigue typically work longer hours, longer shifts, have increased days on call, fewer days off and are more likely to skip meals. Several survey studies have been conducted and found that over 50% of anaesthetists claim to have made a fatigue-related decisions resulting in an error.

Doctors are not the only ones feeling the effects of fatigue. Results from a survey in Canada indicated that the top two factors relating to fatigue in nurses are increased workload and working short-staffed. Culture within the medical industry also has an effect on fatigue. Stoicism is common due to the nature of the work, resulting in fatigue often being overlooked.

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