Study Suggests Link Between Lack of Sleep and Errors by ICU Nurses
A new study from researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine finds that nurses working in intensive care units (ICUs) may get less sleep than their peers on other units, and that they are more likely to make medical errors as a result. The study, findings from which were presented earlier this fall at the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians in San Diego, Calif., correlated nurses’ scores on a sleep quality index and a psychomotor vigilance test.
“Nurses working in the ICU tend to have abnormal sleep and tend to have a greater frequency of errors across the length of their shift,” researcher Salim R. Surani said in an interview with Reuters Health. “These findings could be explained on the basis of the ICU nurses having a more impaired sleep quality as seen by PSQI [Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index], and perhaps having a more demanding and intensive work schedule in the ICU as compared to the floor.”
Reducing Distractions for Nurses Improves Accuracy of Medicine Administration
A series of low-tech, nurse-driven reforms helped nine San Francisco-area hospitals reduce errors in the administration of medicine by nearly 88 percent over a three-year period.
Nurses devised the various reforms as part of a University of California, San Francisco initiative at nine hospitals in the Bay Area. They focused on practical solutions, particularly those aimed at reducing distractions for nurses while they are giving medication. Participating hospitals developed varying approaches, including equipping nurses with brightly colored vests or sashes while administering medicine so that colleagues would know not to interrupt them, or covering windows in the medication room to avoid distractions. Other solutions included requiring nurses to check two forms of patient identification before giving medicine, explaining the drug to patients, and keeping medicine in its packaging until the nurse was at the bedside.