Clinical Nurses:


Clinical nurses.


That is us.


You know you are tired.


Think it's only you?


Hang around nursing conferences long enough, and see for yourself:


"All I see is tired people."


And therein lies the problem.


Fatigue has been normalised as part of our work culture, so much so that we don't even 'see' it any more.


"We are all in it together, but we are also very much on our own

We work as a team, but we suffer our pain alone."

(From the poem 'Ouch', by Pete Smith, 2014)


Your first job is to recognise fatigue limitations.


That is, 17 hours of wakefulness equates to a performance equivalent of a blood alcohol reading of 0.05.


Second, if you work more than 12.5 hours in a 24 hour period, the risk of error increases by 2-3 times.


That's 200% - 300% !!




Your third task is to allocate the appropriate level of personal responsibility:


Who is there to help you out of this situation?



The Nurses Registration Board?


The Department of Health?

The NSQHS Standards?

Your employer?

Your boss?


Think again.


It's you.


So your first real challenge is to accept your own limitations.


The second is to find ways to enforce those limitations upon yourself.


Not because you are weak, but because you are cleverer and more dedicated to your patients than to allow them to be exposed to a patently unsafe clinical risk.


If in doubt, manage your fatigue according to the concrete limitations and see what happens.


If it works, do it again.


Then take the next step.


Start to hold everyone else accountable to managing their own piece of the fatigue pie.


Remember, safety is a systems property requiring systems solutions.


Leave your guilt chip at the door.


It's what's got us into this situation in the first place.