There's no question that working at a hospital is complicated and stressful. Patients come into the hospital in pain, under stress and fearing the worst. For nurses who are the front-line advocate for the patient, this can mean extreme stress or anxiety on the job.
It's important for nurses not to be too stressed, though. A study in 2016 showed that nurses under extreme stress due to high workloads, violence from patients, off-shifts and other issues were more likely to suffer from physical and emotional distress. This distress could, then, lead to errors that harm patients.
When a nurse doesn't get enough sleep, is attacked by patients or is otherwise depressed, tired or anxious, he or she is more likely to make mistakes. A study showed that nurses in poor health had significantly higher rates of medical errors on the job.
How can nurses get help to reduce stress on the job?
First, it's important for nurses to get enough sleep. Just a few extra hours a night could reduce the risk of fatal errors. Providing time off for nurses and making sure they aren't working when they're ill or frazzled helps reduce the risk of accidents as well. Overall, creating a comprehensive wellness plan and better work environment could help nurses relax, which would, in turn, reduce the number of errors patients face.
No matter how much sleep a nurse has received or the stress on the job, it's not okay to make mistakes. Patients suffer injuries. Medical personnel need to know when they're not in a state to work and take the appropriate steps to take time off.
Source: Medpage Today, "Reduce Nurse Stress and Reduce Medical Errors," Jennifer Thew, RN, Dec. 03, 2017