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Healthy staff means fewer errors and patient-safety problems

Healthy staff means fewer errors and patient-safety problems

Taking care of ourselves at work includes finding a quiet place to take a break. Patient safety improves when staff members are well.

Health-care providers have been trained to believe they must perform perfectly in clinical practice. But is that really attainable? Although we may want to be perfect, we must strive for excellence instead.

We have to understand that we should be care receivers as well as care providers. A growing body of literature shows that health-care providers are at high risk of becoming unwell, and this can mean problems for patient care. The health-care system in which we work makes taking care of ourselves difficult: heavy workload, long shifts, inadequate food off-hours, finding a quiet place to sit, increasingly complex health-care delivery, fatigue, emotionally charged situations, and ever-changing processes and rules. This can result in burnout, depression, substance abuse or even suicide. And all these negative consequences ultimately affect the safety of the patient care we provide.

“When staff members are healthy and well, we can minimize errors and confusion,” said Denise Picard-Stencer, Director of Occupational Health and Safety. “For example, staff members who get enough sleep will be able to provide better patient care and safety as well as improve their own performance satisfaction.”  Also, staff members with healthy habits are more likely to talk to patients about these habits and incorporate them into treatment plans.

Wellness is not just the absence of personal distress but it’s also about us striving to do our best in the workplace. All hospital staff members need to be aware of the demands placed on them, professionally and personally, and should try to achieve a balance that doesn’t lead to excessive fatigue or over-commitment. Patients, and the health-care system as a whole, will benefit.


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This website gives you common facts, advice and tips. Some of it may not apply to you. Please talk to your doctor, nurse or other health-care team member to see if this information will work for you. They can also answer your questions and concerns.