When you are a patient in a hospital or a resident of a nursing home, the last thing that you want to worry about is whether the nurse in charge of providing your care is sleep deprived. After all, patients are both vulnerable and dependent upon their nurses for the most basic tasks when they are hospitalized.
But sleep deprivation in the medical community remains a significant problem in the United States. Research shows that Americans sleep fewer hours than ever, with the average night's sleep netting roughly 6.8 hours, as reported by bettersleep.org. It should be noted that most doctors recommend that their patients get an average of seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
Perhaps even more worrisome, Medical Daily reports that about 30 percent of adults in the United States are sleep deprived. The reasons behind the dearth of quality sleep are varied but include family and job demands. If those job demands include working the graveyard shift as a nurse, there is a higher likelihood for sleep deprivation to occur. It's reported that 20 percent of nurse self-report struggling to stay awake to render patient care on the third shift.
Furthermore, data from a National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) study found that third-shift nurses average one to four fewer hours of sleep in comparison to their daytime counterparts.
So, what is affected when nurses fail to get adequate sleep? Concentration and judgment both take solid hits. A nurse working a double shift on five hours of sleep might struggle to interpret and understand a patient's chart notes or to recognize that the onset of alarming symptoms indicates the need to call the doctor.
Sleep debt can occur when nurses (and others) fail to get adequate sleep. If, instead of eight hours a night, a nurse sleeps five hours each day for five days, that equals 25 hours of sleep debt. To cancel out any adverse effects of this cumulative sleep debt, the individual would have to sleep more than an entire day. It's apparent that is unlikely to occur with the tight schedules of busy lives.
If you suffered an adverse medical event in a hospital, it's possible that a sleep-deprived nurse caused or contributed to your worsened condition. Learn how to protect your rights and seek compensation.