Health workers need rest! Patient safety at risk (Sep 2022)

Following the release of a new study’s findings, new questions have been raised regarding the detrimental effect that burnout among nurses and other healthcare personnel has on patient safety.

According to comprehensive research that was published in the British Medical Journal, emergency medicine physicians who were stressed out were more than twice as likely to be associated with a patient safety incident.

a woman talking to a patient
Nurse ensuring patient safety.

It adds to the growing body of research showing that patient safety is being jeopardized by excessive workloads, long hours, understaffing, and overall lack of support that lead to burnout in nurses and other health professionals.

The evaluation includes information from 170 earlier studies on self-reported burnout in doctors and its impacts on professional advancement and patient care quality. The investigation used information from roughly 240,000 doctors.

Those who worked in emergency medicine and intensive care units at hospitals were most likely to experience burnout.

Doctors who reported burnout were four times less likely to express job satisfaction, more than three times more likely to feel guilty about their career decision, and nearly twice as likely to be thinking about leaving their position.

man wearing blue scrub suit and mask sitting on bench
tired health worker

A tripling of the risk of patient safety accidents was linked to burnout. Doctors between the ages of 20 and 30 who practice emergency medicine were most at risk.

The same issues were observed in ICU nursing, according to Nicki Credland, chair of the British Association of Critical Care Nurses (BACCN) and director of the department of paramedical, peri-operative, and advanced practice at the University of Hull.

“We are still seeing more challenges with mental health and wellness, which translates into more staff sickness, less job satisfaction, intention to leave, and low staff retention,” she said.

She continued by saying that nurses who were burnt out required access to mental health and wellbeing assistance.

According to Ms. Credland, compassionate rostering and devoted restorative supervision time are further strategies for addressing burnout.

In order to minimize burnout in critical care nurses, she added, safe staffing levels, proper remuneration, protected annual leave, and encouraged professional advancement were crucial.

Leona Cameron, director of health, safety, and wellbeing at the Royal College of Nursing, concurred that nurses also needed to be aware of the connection between burnout and the danger to patient safety described in the current study.

Despite the fact that this study focused on physicians rather than nursing staff, she added, “it seems to support what we already know, which is that when there aren’t enough nurses on hand, patient care suffers.”

According to academic research, the risk of death rises when there aren’t enough nurses on staff, said Ms. Cameron.

The combination of massive backlogs, a workforce problem, and declining morale has brought nursing personnel to their knees.

Ms. Cameron repeated the RCN’s demands for “immediate” nursing investment, including equitable staff compensation, and sounded the alarm that “patient suffering will persist unless these concerns are addressed.”

Ethics: Archie Battersbee, 12, dies after life support is turned off – Nursing Media Network (

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