Every nurse knows it, feels it and wishes it was not so. Fatigue is our companion. The longer our day, the more intense our day, and the more shifts worked close to each other, the more fatigue we experience. Now a recent research study from the Journal of Applied Psychology has studied healthcare worker fatigue as it relates to hand hygiene – that most basic procedure to protect our patients and our selves.
This decline in hand hygiene compliance could cost society $12.5 billion per year, with 35,000 unnecessary deaths per year
The study clearly demonstrates that as healthcare workers fatigue level increases, their compliance with hand hygiene standards decreases. It is a fascinating look at over 4,000 caregivers in 35 different hospitals and more than 13.7 million hand hygiene opportunities that found an average decline of 8.7% from the beginning to the end of a 12 hour shift. The data from this study estimates that hospital acquired infections that may result from this decline in hand hygiene compliance could cost society $12.5 billion per year, with 35,000 unnecessary deaths per year from the estimated 0.6 billion annual infections.
The healthcare environment is not healthy. It is a stressful, sick environment where tired people care for very ill patients. This is front page news. If any other industry was dealing with this estimated death rate and cost, people would be incredulous. Healthcare is filled with wonderful, dedicated people who wish to help others – no one went into healthcare suspecting our industry was unsafe for patients.
Let’s change! With help from the board rooms to the bedside workers, we all need to change. Advocate, disrupt and preserver for excellent health care.
To your health!