Study: Medics' fatigue linked to higher injury rates

In the survey sample, more than half of the respondents were classified as fatigued

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Fatigue and lack of restful sleep are linked to higher reported rates of injuries, medical errors and behavior that compromises safety, according to a study announced today by the University of Pittsburgh.

"Emergency medical technicians and paramedics work long hours in a demanding occupation with an unpredictable workload, which can easily lead to fatigue and poor sleep," said lead author P. Daniel Patterson, an assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "Our study is one of the first to show that this may jeopardize patient and provider safety in the EMS setting."

The findings are online in Prehospital Emergency Care and are to appear in the January-March 2012 print edition.

The researchers surveyed EMS workers from across the country, receiving complete data from 511 people.

In the survey sample, more than half of the respondents were classified as fatigued; 18 percent reported an injury; 41 percent reported a medical error or adverse event; and 90 percent reported a safety-compromising behavior.

The researchers found the odds of injury were 1.9 times greater for fatigued respondents vs. their non-fatigued peers; the odds of medical errors or adverse events were 2.2 times greater; and the odds of safety-compromising behavior were 3.6 times greater.


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