The Joint Commission is warning hospitals about the potential dangers of extended hours and excessive workloads in a new Sentinel Event Alert. The alert contains documented links between healthcare worker fatigue and adverse events, as well as lower productivity. Sleep deprivation or lack of quality sleep over an extended amount of time can lead to confusion, irritability, memory lapses, loss of empathy, and compromised problem-solving, among other things, according to the Alert. The Joint Commission suggests organizations assess their fatigue-related risks, including off-shift hours and consecutive shift work; examine the hand-off process; invite staff to offer input in their own work schedules; implement a fatigue management plan; and educate staff about the effects of fatigue on patient safety.
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