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How burnout can affect injury risks for healthcare workers

On Behalf of | Apr 9, 2024 | Workplace Safety

Healthcare workers face numerous challenges in their demanding roles. As a result, burnout is a key concern affecting their well-being and safety.

Burnout, characterized by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment, can compromise a healthcare worker’s ability to provide quality care. It can also increase the risk of injuries.

Effects of burnout on injury risks

Burnout can lead to physical and mental fatigue, impairing concentration and decision-making abilities. This fatigue can result in errors during patient care, such as medication mistakes or improper handling of medical equipment, which may lead to injuries for both patients and healthcare workers. Burnout can also contribute to feelings of cynicism and detachment. This can cause healthcare workers to become less vigilant and attentive to potential hazards in their work environment, further elevating the risk of accidents and injuries.

Impact of long hours and workload

Long hours and heavy workloads contribute to burnout among healthcare workers. The demanding nature of their jobs often requires them to work extended shifts. This leads to physical exhaustion and decreased alertness. Fatigue from prolonged work hours impairs motor skills and coordination. It also compromises the immune system, making healthcare workers more susceptible to injuries and illnesses.

Stress and emotional strain

The stress and emotional strain inherent in healthcare roles can exacerbate burnout and its effects on injury risks. Dealing with high-pressure situations, patient emergencies and traumatic events can take a toll on mental health and resilience. Chronic stress can weaken coping mechanisms. It can also increase the likelihood of errors and accidents in the workplace.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that burnout affects between 35% and 54% of nurses and physicians. By recognizing the impact of burnout on injury risks and implementing measures to prevent and address it, healthcare organizations can create a safer, more supportive work environment for their employees.