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Can nurse exhaustion lead to malpractice?

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2022 | Medical Malpractice |

The medical world is a fast-paced, hectic environment. Especially in recent years, the pressure on those in the profession has grown and remained immense.

Unfortunately, this can cause nurses to experience exhaustion that may actually contribute to negligence and malpractice.

The effects of sleep deprivation

AAPA discusses the ties between medical malpractice and provider burnout. This primarily happens in one of two ways.

First, employees who do not get enough sleep simply do not have what they need to give the job their all. Sleep deprivation actually affects the human body in a way similar to the consumption of alcohol. Many nurses end up having to work extreme shifts of ten hours or more. Many also do not get much of a break between these shifts. Sometimes, they get less than five hours off before they have to start again, leading to many sleeping in break rooms and returning to work right after.

Careless mistakes and emotional distress

Needless to say, this can easily lead to emotional and mental exhaustion. It can cause forgetfulness and mix-ups that would otherwise have been easy to avoid, such as giving a patient the wrong medication or marking the wrong site for operation in surgery.

It can also cause nurses to grow emotionally fraught and tense. In some cases, they may even lash out at patients, yelling at them or being cruel in other ways that can actually constitute abuse.

Of course, even exhaustion is no excuse to mistreat another person. However, it is important to acknowledge this issue and work to combat it, as that will help lower the rate of malpractice incidents, too.