What is it about?

This is about fatigue and how it affects staff working in healthcare and their patients. It explains fatigue in simple terms and suggests individual, institutional and national approaches to mitigating the effects of fatigue using the literature to date to support the views expressed.

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Why is it important?

In the NHS and other large healthcare institutions around the globe, errors are causing iatrogenic harm to patients. Fatigue in healthcare staff is a significant cause of incidents and errors, including medication and needlestick injury and road traffic accidents in staff. To date there are no systematic approaches in the NHS and most other healthcare providers globally to manage the risk of fatigue in health care staff. This paper discusses this in more depth.


Fatigue is a problem that stares us in the face in the NHS, where we see over a million patients every 3 days. Covid has made fatigue in healthcare workers worse. We hear about stress at work but rarely about the fatigue that often underlies it. There are simple and sensible ways to manage fatigue if it is acknowledged and understood. It is not clear what the barriers are; possibly the fear in senior managers that lifting the lid on staff fatigue opens a deluge of unmet resources in staffing and facilities for which there is no budget. However, with a little education and willingness to use current systems, there are simple measures that can help with staff fatigue and it's detrimental effects without costing a fortune.

Ceri Sutherland
South Tees NHS Foundation Trust, United Kingdom

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Fatigue and its impact on performance and health, British Journal of Hospital Medicine, February 2023, Mark Allen Group,
DOI: 10.12968/hmed.2022.0548.
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