FIGHTING FATIGUE IN EUROPE
Fatigue is known to have detrimental effects on patient and staff safety, staff performance and health. Logical reasoning, vigilance, empathy, flexibility of thinking and ability to learn and retain information are all impacted by tiredness. Night shift workers have higher incidences of hypertension, diabetes and some forms of cancer. Other safety-critical industries are required by law to have fatigue risk management systems in place, but this is not so in healthcare.
In March 2021, the EUPSF became official backer of the #FightFatigue campaign, initially a joint initiative in UK of the Association of Anaesthetists, Royal College of Anaesthetists and the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine launched in 2018 in response to the tragic death of a trainee anaesthetist who died whilst driving home tired after a night shift.
WHAT IS THE LINK BETWEEN FATIGUE AND PATIENT SAFETY?
According to Dr. Nancy Redfern's presentation "Managing fatigue as part of a safety culture" fatigue has effects on the way the healthcare professionals manage patients and on themselves.
The first thing to go is empathy with patients and colleagues , which is wearing thin after 12 hours.
Then by 15 or 16 hours awake, the vigilance, logical reasoning and ability to think flexibility, or to retain new information are affected. The mood gets worse so the teamwork suffers. Really, everything that makes healthcare professionals and the patients safe is affected.
But it also impacts on health & wellbeing. As well as an increased risk of accidents, lots of diseases are associated with shift working. Hypertension, diabetes strokes, cancer - breast bowel prostate.
WORKING TOGETHER FOR FIGHTING THE FATIGUE IN EUROPE
Together with the Association of Anaesthetists and UK's Joint Fatigue Group co-led by Dr. Emma Plunkett and Dr. Nancy Redfern, the EUPSF is now working on enlarging the campaign to all healthcare professions in Europe. To be able to develop effective strategies, we first need to quantify how much of a problem fatigue is in Europe.
The 1st survey in 2018 targeted UK's anaesthesiologists and revealed that from over 2000 responses; 57% of trainees and 45% of consultants had had an accident or near miss driving home, and many did not have rest facilities during or after an on-call period.
The European Board of Anaesthesiology (EBA) Workforce, Working Conditions and Welfare Committee together with EBA Patient Safety Committee have re-designed the questionnaires so that they are applicable in Europe and are asking all anaesthesiologists to help with this important issue by completing either the consultant or trainee survey below. A similar, adapted survey for all other healthcare professionals should follow in early spring 2022.