Nurse Alarm Fatigue, Sleep Deprivation Contribute to Medical Error

We depend on doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to make sure that we’re taken care of should we need to be admitted to the hospital due to a medical condition. Therefore, making it possible for nurses, whose job it is to monitor their patients’ well-being, to have the proper amount of down-time and also ensuring alarm awareness during their shifts is of utmost importance.

According to an article on, sleep deprivation and alarm fatigue can contribute to medical error that can have catastrophic or fatal results. One example of alarm fatigue is when a nurse tunes out the beeps and alarms that monitoring equipment makes when in use by a patient. Because there are a plethora of varying machines, should a monitor be so sensitive that it alerts a nurse of a problem when the patient is fine, the nurse may turn the alarm off completely. This creates an opportunity for something to go wrong or unnoticed, such as an irregular heart palpitation.

Additionally, nurses’ schedules are notorious for requiring long hours with little time for breaks between shifts. Sleep deprivation, coupled with alarm fatigue, is a recipe for disaster. Studies show that nurses who work 12.5 hours or more in a single shift were three times more likely to make a mistake. The Institute of Medicine recommended shorter shifts in 2003 and continues to push for hospital managers to ensure that all nurses are allowed enough rest so as to minimize the chances of a medical error.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to medical error, it would be in your best interest to consult with an experienced Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorney to learn about your legal rights. It is the responsibility of all doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to ensure the safety and proper care of all patients. When that responsibility is overlooked, patients may suffer as a result. The lawyers at Anapol Weiss have years of experience successfully handling a wide variety of Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawsuits and can help you attain fair and just compensation for your injuries. Call us today at 1(866) 735-2792 to learn how we can help you with your situation.

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