PURPOSE: Sleep deprivation is a common problem in health care workers and is compounded by shift-work related disruptions in circadian rhythmicity. Recent studies have implicated sleepiness in nurses (RNs)as a cause for errors in administration of care. There is also the issue of safety to theRNs themselves. Objective data on sleepiness in RNs is lacking in our review of literature.
METHODS: Post-call night shift RNs in ICU and those on general floors (medicine and surgery) were assessed using subjective measures- Epworth sleepiness scores (ESS) as well as objective measures- by Mean Sleep Latency Test (MSLT). A modified MSLT was performed using only two 20 minute sleep periods. MSLTs were scored based on published guidelines.
RESULTS: RNs post-call were found to have excess sleepiness. ESS was abnormal (>8) in 5 of 6 ICU nurses compared to none of the floor nurses (median values 10+/− 2 vs. 4+/− 8 respectively, p=0.009). MSLT in both ICU nurses and floor nurses was pathological (6.5+/− 16 and 3.5+/− 6 minute respectively, p=0.528). Moreover, it was noted that 6 out of 8 RNs who fell asleep during the test had no perception of sleep.
CONCLUSION: Post-call RNs have pathological MSLT values. Subjectively ICU RNs are significantly more sleepy than floor RNs. There is significant lack of sleep/wake perception amongst post-call. All these factors could have important implications for patients as well as RN safety.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: This study can have an implication in formulating law governing the RNs work hours and help in ensuring patient and RNs safety.
DISCLOSURE: Harsh Babbar, None.