When Enough is Enough: Synthesis of Nursing Fatigue

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Fatigue management is one key to the success of Canadian healthcare.  Nursing Fatigue is recognized by governments, unions and employers as a problem.  This paper argues that fatigue contributes to moral and ethical dilemmas experienced by nurses and fatigue interferes with the decision making skills and cognition abilities of nurses (reasons:  long shifts, short staffing during shifts, mix of staffing, sensory overload, environmental impacts such as lighting, use of intense colour or abrupt colour contrasts, clutter due to lack of storage).  The objectives of the paper are to:  1) synthesize nurse fatigue; 2) present evidence-based research that show how and why fatigue can impair judgment in ethical or moral decisions; 3) discuss impaired judgment, ethical dilemmas, and patient safety; 4) present future research to uncover impaired judgment processing of ethical dilemmas and 5) discuss the physical design interventions which require research to support the nurse.

The paper focuses on the psychophysiology of fatigue and is supported by sleep deprivation studies and clinical nursing research.


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