Study Says Fatigue Linked to ER Mistakes in Virginia

If you’re under the care of an EMS worker, you’re probably not at your best. You are relying on the ambulance attendant, the crash team and the emergency room crew to care for you. But what if these employees are stressed, overworked, or just plain exhausted?

Fatigued Medical Professionals Can Be Dangerous

An article in an upcoming edition of Prehospital Emergency Care has found that fatigue and a lack of restful sleep are major causes of medical errors and patient injuries in emergency settings. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, found that fatigued medical professionals were 2 times likelier to cause injury than their well-rested peers, and adverse hospital events were 2.2 times more likely to occur when workers were fatigued.

In the data collected from 511 EMS workers nationwide:

  • More than half were medically classified as fatigued.
  • 18 percent reported an injury occurring while they were fatigued.
  • 41 percent reported a medical error.
  • 90 percent reported safety-compromising behavior.

The odds of a doctor or nurse compromising safety because of fatigue produced the most worrying statistic, since they were 3.6 times more likely to ignore or disregard safety protocols when exhausted.

Lead author P. Daniel Patterson, an assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, hopes the study will call attention to the dangers of overworked ER staff.

"Emergency medical technicians and paramedics work long hours in a demanding occupation with an unpredictable workload, which can easily lead to fatigue and poor sleep," Patterson said.

Our Medical Malpractice Lawyers Can Help

If someone you love was injured in a Virginia emergency room, our experienced Fairfax medical malpractice lawyers can get you the compensation you deserve. Call Shevlin Smith today at (703) 721-4233 for a free consultation.


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