PURPOSE:Sleepiness amongst nurses is both prevalent and has implications for patient safety. Studies have shown a correlation between sleepiness at work and an increase in errors in patient-care. We have previously shown that night-shift intensive care unit (ICU) nurses demonstrate excessive sleepiness based on MSLT data. The objective of this study was to assess the vigilance amongst night-shift ICU nurses at both the beginning and the end of their shift, and compare it with similar measurements in day-shift ICU nurses.
METHODS:ICU nurses were included in the study - from both day and night shift. Vigilance was assessed on each nurse by means of two sets of reaction time measurements. Testing was carried out both at the beginning of their shift, and at the end of the same 12 hour shift. Each set consisted a series of 5 different objects appearing 10 times each, on a computer screen, and time taken to press the space bar was separately assessed as the response time for each of the five series. The longest, shortest and average duration of each response was separately recorded and tabulated.
RESULTS:Among day-shift nurses the reaction times were unchanged across the shift –there were no significant differences in reaction times between either ends of the shift. The night-shift nurses performed better on reaction test 2, 3 and 5 (small objects appearing on computer screen) towards the end of the shift (table 2).
CONCLUSION:Our data indicate that despite having excess sleepiness, ICU nurses performing the night-shift peform better on reaction time tests towards the end of their shift as compared to the start. No such difference was observed amongst day-shift ICU nurses.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS:Vigilance tests as measured by reaction times may not correlate with excess sleepiness. Multiple factors, including circadian influences, may be playing a role.
DISCLOSURE:Salim Surani, No Financial Disclosure Information; No Product/Research Disclosure Information