Wellness among Health Care Providers

Although improving techniques and technologies in patient care dominates much discussion in the health care industry, more attention has begun to be paid to the wellness of those providing that care, like physicians, nurses, surgeons, residents, and so on. When we get sick or hurt, we probably don’t give much thought to whether our health care providers are fatigued or even ill themselves, yet research shows they often work in spite of illness or fatigue, and fatigue is very common.(1)

Many health care providers work long shifts of more than 12 hours, and the negative effects of shiftwork and long shifts are well understood.(2,3)  In the health care industry, shiftwork fatigue has been connected to increased risk of errors in patient care. As a result, experts have argued that health care workplaces should view the wellness of its providers as equally worthy of attention as the care of its patients, given the causal relationship between the two.(4)

Some experts have stressed that interventions are necessary to address the impact of fatigue risk on provider wellness and patient care, but they should not limit the autonomy of the health care professional.(1) Research is limited on whether interventions intended to enhance the wellness of health care providers has a positive impact on patient care, yet there appears to be significant promise.

Predictive Safety’s AlertMeter® or PRISM platforms may provide health care environments a non-invasive tool that can help manage fatigue risk for physicians, nurses, residents, and other health care providers by providing a measure of alertness or fatigue risk without diminishing personal autonomy. In fact, awareness of one’s alertness or fatigue level may enhance autonomy by influencing him or her to exercise countermeasures, like food, rest, physical movement, coffee or tea, and so on, to improve alertness.

If your institution is interested in establishing alertness testing’s value in health care environments, Predictive Safety would be enthusiastic to discuss the possibilities.

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1.     Wallace, J.E., Lemaire, J.B., & Ghali, W.A. (2009). Physician wellness: a missing quality indicator. Lancet 374(9702): 1714–21.

2.     Åkerstadt, T. (1990). Psychological and psychophysiological effects of shift work. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health 16(Suppl 1): 61–73.

3.     Caruso, C.C. (2013). Negative impacts of shiftwork and long work hours. Rehabilitation Nursing 39(1): 16–25. doi:10.1002/rnj.107

4.     Caruso, C.C. (2010). Occupational health and safety for nurses benefits patients, too. Rehabilitation Nursing 35(5): 176+.