New Study: Nurses' Insomnia Creates Errors Related To Medication And Charting Practices


MINNEAPOLIS - A new survey of 2,082 nurses found that more than one quarter of nurses (27.23%) suffered from insomnia; 32.10% had difficulty staying asleep, 12.52% had trouble falling asleep, and 55.38% suffered from a combination of both symptoms.

The study revealed that insomnia is attributed to a significant increase in medication dispensing errors, charting deviations from standard practice and falling asleep unintentionally at work. The survey also found that despite the significant impact of their insomnia, only 30% of those surveyed sought professional care to address the problem.

Survey Findings

  -- Medication dispensing errors were reported more frequently in nurses experiencing difficulty "staying asleep," characterized by nighttime awakenings, (29.67%, p<.01) than those who were "good sleepers" (18.75%).
  -- Charting deviations from standard practice were more frequently reported by nurses experiencing difficulty "falling asleep" (45.07%, p<.01), "staying asleep" (41.76%, p<.001) and a combination of both (41.72%, p< .001) compared to "good sleepers" (23.56%).
  -- Falling asleep unintentionally or fighting to stay awake at work was reported more frequently in nurses experiencing difficulty "falling asleep" (33.80%, p<.01) and "staying asleep" (42.31%, p<.001) and a combination of both (37.26%, p<.001) compared to nurses who were "good sleepers" (20.19%).

Additional Findings

  -- Negative effects of insomnia on workplace productivity were reported significantly more by nurses experiencing difficulty "falling sleep"  (60.56%, p<.001), "staying asleep" (59.34%, p<.001) and a combination of both (51.27%, p<.001), compared to "good sleepers" (30.05%).
  -- The proportion of nurses reporting negative effects of insomnia on both health and mood respectively was significantly higher for those experiencing difficulty "falling sleep" (73.24%, 80.28%), "staying asleep" (68.13%, 82.97%) and a combination of both (70.70%, 83.76%), compared to "good sleepers" (33.89%, 48.56%, p<.001 for all comparisons).
  -- Only a minority of nurses (<30%) sought care for their insomnia during the past 12 months.

"The pressure of shift work and the high demands of our round the clock society, often result in the development of insomnia, which is a significant contributing factor to workplace errors that may compromise safety," said Dr. Mark Rosekind, president and chief scientist of Alertness Solutions, who conducted the survey. The results from this study show that insomnia affects workplace productivity, performance and safety, regardless of the type of insomnia experienced. Yet in spite of the significant effects that were reported, the insomnia is rarely being addressed."

"These findings remind us that sleep is not a luxury -- it is an absolute necessity; and that insomnia significantly affects people's lives, work performance and safety; more than most of us realize," said Dr. Rosekind. "Also, effective treatments exist for insomnia. We need to educate people about the risks of insomnia, have them seek treatment when appropriate, and use effective behavioral and medication interventions to improve their insomnia."

The survey was taken online by the Association of Nurse Executives (AORN), and funded by Neurocrine Biosciences Inc of San Diego.


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