BON Position on Medication Errors and Working Long Hours
The Board of Nursing (BON) articulates that nurses who work for 12 or more hours straight could be facing rates of error that are three times higher than those of their counterparts who are working shorter shifts. According to various studies, almost 40% of all nursing shifts in hospitals are more than 12 hours. With these increased working hours come the increased chances for nurses to commit errors. To that extent, the most common medication errors related to long hours are wrong dose or drug and giving medication later than it was intended. Further, the chances of committing an error are also enhanced whenever a nurse works for more than 40 hours a week. In addition, BON states that working overtime, irrespective of the length of the first shift increased the chances of a nurse committing at least a single error.
Analysis of The BON’s Position Statement
I agree with BON’s statement that longer working hours for nurses increases the chances of professionals committing medical errors. When one works long hours, whether out of necessity prompted by ow staff numbers or voluntarily, one is not functioning at his/her best. Short staffing leads to burnout, dissatisfaction, and burnout among nurses. When one is overwhelmed and fatigued with duties, and does not see any forthcoming changes, patients are at an increased risk of compromised care or injury. Shist work is typical in nursing practice. Traditionally, nurses worked different shifts and most changed shifts from day to night and vice versa, all in a week’s duration. After the nursing shortage started, more flexible hours were embraced. Indeed, 75% of nurses in hospitals currently work 12-hour shifts. Whereas 12-hour shifts are beneficial for numerous reasons, one key disadvantage is that it results in less sleep and fatigue, particularly when hours are increased to the shift along with other stressors. For instance, a nurse may be requested to attend meetings after shifts or he/she may have a few breaks during a shift. Based on this illustration, BON’s position statement regarding the effect of long working hours is correct. To comply with the recommendations stated by BON, working environments should:
- Increase their working force by collaborating with schools to provide on-site training; this will ease the burden on the seasoned professionals.
- Stipulate a mandatory duration which nurses are supposed to rest to ensure that fatigue does not interfere with their duties.
- Balance their patient-nurse ratio in a suitable manner to ensure the nursing workforce is not overworked.
Ways Nurses Can Reduce Errors and Prevent Patient Harm
The first way that nurses can embrace is advocating for changes in the workplace through the Central Nursing Office (CNO) or other available paths like community education and union membership. Secondly, nurses can become members of their respective professional bodies and take part in their legislative efforts to mitigate such issues. Lastly, nurses should acknowledge the symptoms and signs they experience because of lack of sleep and fatigue to enable them to make the needed changes (for example, seeking medical attention, getting enough rest, and saying not to extra shifts). By embracing these methods, nurses can decrease errors which are harmful to patients.
The Meaning of Professional Accountability
Professional accountability means taking charge and having authority over one’s role in the work environment. It entails practicing whilst adhering to the highest standards and accepting mistakes when they occur in order to rectify them. By doing so, a nurse will set a high precedence that will elevate his/her position in the working environment.