A good number of healthcare professionals work in environments where one small mistake can be fatal. Coupled with the perennial lack of manpower and funding, you have an exhausted workforce in one of the most stressful industries. This has resulted in poorer healthcare quality and growing turnover numbers.
Suffering Healthcare and High Turnovers
A study by the Institute of Medicine in 2003 found that overworked nurses tend suffer a decline in short-term and working memory; a reduced ability to learn; a negative impact on critical thinking, innovation, and insight; increased risk-taking behavior; and impaired mood and communication skills.
This is further discussed in a study by Rogers et al., (2003) which studied the work patterns of 393 nurses throughout 5,300 shifts. Comparing their work performance versus the number of hours rendered, errors significantly stacked up overtime with likelihood for errors being thrice as high in shifts of over 12.5-hours. Over-fatigued nurses and practitioners are prone to committing more mistakes and tend to take shortcuts. This fatigue and the corresponding performance issues that go with it are to blame for a poorer quality healthcare system.
The healthcare industry has a massive turnover rate with many nurses constantly moving from one job to the other. This costs money at an average of $49,500 per nurse with hospitals losing close to $4.4-million to $7.0-million annually. Hospital turnover is currently at 18% and is projected to grow higher as time goes by.
Burnout and Depression
More than simply noting nurses in reference to their output, we also have to look at how the work hours affect nurses individually. A study by CareerBuilder found that up to 60% of healthcare workers reported burnout and feelings of depression.
A major culprit is the work environment: understaffed and ill-maintained facilities cause many nurses to work more hours under more stress. A study attributed the high rates of burnout to personal obligations conflicting with work demands. These personal obligations come in the form of familial responsibilities or career-directed decision-making.
Much of it comes from self-doubt coupled with incessant fatigue as reported by an earlier study back in 2013. Nurses in such stressful settings are often yelled at or ordered around by supervisors who are working the same number of hours. This leads to a different dynamic: bullying. Many nurses feel oppressed in the workplace and cannot gather the mental resilience to deal with bullies and simultaneously provide the quality care required of them.
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