How Can Sleep Disorders Among Nurses Impact Patient Safety?

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Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers discuss the dangers of sleep disorders among nurses. It is no secret that nurses tend to work long hours, with a typical shift lasting 12 hours or more. For many nurses, one of the benefits of longer shifts means that they can work fewer days. However, long hours and inconsistent sleep patterns can put nurses at an increased risk of sleep deprivation and chronic insomnia. Researchers from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center studied the sleep habits of nurses in an academic medical center to study the incidence of shift work disorder, as well as risk factors for sleep apnea. In addition to the negative impact that sleep disorders can have on nurses’ overall health, a nurse who is deprived of sleep is more likely to make a medical mistake.

According to the researchers involved in the study, every year, approximately 100,000 deaths in this country are caused by medical errors. Sleep disorders and sleep deprivation are some of the common contributors. A total of 1,165 nurses who were over the age of 18 participated in the survey at a tertiary care medical center. Researchers collected data on demographics, sleep schedule, medications used to sleep or to stay awake, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and the STOP-BANG, Epworth sleepiness scale (ESS), as well as shift work disorder questionnaires. They found the following results:

  • Close to half of respondents averaged fewer than seven hours of sleep per night
  • Over 25 percent of nurses took medications to help them sleep, while 13 percent took medications to help stay awake
  • Just over 30 percent of nurses showed signs of shift work disorder
  • Restless leg syndrome was found in 14 percent of nurses
  • Thirty-one percent of nurses had chronic insomnia
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness was found in 4.5 percent of nurses
  • Close to 19 percent of nurses had a moderate to severe risk of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

The lead author of the study and a second-year fellow at the OU Health Sciences Center said that there needs to be an increased awareness about this issue so that they can develop effective screening methods and make the necessary scheduling modifications so that nurses do not continue to suffer the burden of shift work disorder. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Nurses who get fewer than six hours of sleep one night, and nine hours the next night often experience a disruption of their circadian rhythm. When the natural circadian rhythm is disrupted, nurses are at an increased risk for shift work disorder.

Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Secure Benefits for Nurses with Work-Related Sleep Disorders

If you are a nurse and you suffer from shift work disorder, or any other work-related sleep disorders, you are urged to contact the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton at your earliest convenience. Our dedicated team will ensure that you receive the full financial benefits you deserve. We will continue to fight for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online. Located in Baltimore, we serve clients throughout Maryland.