Nine ways to give rest to the weary health care worker
In a December 2011 sentinel-event alert, the Joint Commission offered advice to help health care organizations prevent fatigue-related adverse events:
- Review policies to ensure that they address extended work shifts and hours.
- Assess hand-off procedures to ensure that they protect patients adequately.
- Invite staff to take part in designing work schedules to minimize potential
- Offer tips to fight fatigue, such as doing things that involve physical action, talking with other people, taking short naps and drinking coffee only when tired.
- Educate staff about sleep hygiene and the effects of fatigue on patient safety.
- Offer opportunities for staff to express concerns about fatigue.
- Use a system of independent second checks for critical tasks and complex patients.
- Consider fatigue as a potential contributing factor when reviewing all adverse events.
- Ensure that the nap room is cool, dark, quiet and comfortable; provide eye masks and ear plugs; and let workers turn off pagers between shifts.
Source: "Sentinel Event Alert Issue 48: Health care worker fatigue and patient safety," The Joint Commission, Dec. 14, 2011 http://www.jointcommission.org/sea_issue_48/