Study suggests risk management approach to combat EMS fatigue

January 12, 2018, University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Extended shift work has historically been linked to interrupted sleep patterns and risk of injury, and is a persistent problem for emergency medical services (EMS) personnel who are tasked with delivering acute care under significant pressure.

New guidelines, written by a team led by University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine scientists and published this week in the journal Prehospital Emergency Care, aim to mitigate the effects of by addressing the impact of and scheduling.

"The problem of fatigued EMS personnel is widespread and not isolated to one type of EMS operation or category of EMS clinician. Administrators of EMS organizations are not sufficiently equipped to address fatigue in the workplace, in part because of the absence of guidelines for fatigue risk management in the EMS setting," said Daniel Patterson, Ph.D., lead author and assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Pitt School of Medicine

After review and analysis of more than 38,000 journal articles, conference presentations and other publications, Patterson and his colleagues gathered information on fatigue and shift work to develop the evidence-based guidelines for fatigue risk management and test the impact of the findings to create a biomathematical model for use by the EMS community to aid in shift-scheduling decisions.

The guidelines consist of five recommendations:

  • Use of fatigue/sleepiness surveys to measure and monitor EMS personnel fatigue.
  • Limit EMS shifts to less than 24 hours in duration.
  • Give EMS personnel access to caffeine to help stave off fatigue.
  • Allow EMS personnel the opportunity to nap while on duty.
  • Provide education and training in fatigue risk management to EMS personnel.

Patterson and his team expect the guidelines to have a wide impact on improving practice and policies to alleviate EMS personnel fatigue, whether when driving an ambulance or caring for patients.

"Operating the ambulance is only one aspect of EMS care," said Patterson. "Most of the work EMS clinicians do is actually patient care. Fatigue affects decision-making abilities and overall performance, and with the pressure of delivering acute care, one wrong decision can be detrimental."

Explore further: Fatigue linked to safety problems among EMS workers, study finds

Related Stories

Fatigue linked to safety problems among EMS workers, study finds

November 17, 2011
Fatigue and poor sleep quality, which affect many emergency medical services (EMS) workers, are linked to higher reported rates of injuries, medical errors and safety-compromising behaviors, according to a study by University ...

Poor sleep, fatigue linked to clinical-decision regret in nurses

January 5, 2014
(HealthDay)—Among critical care nurses, clinical-decision regret is associated with sleep disturbances and the resulting fatigue, according to a study published in the January issue of the American Journal of Critical Care.

Pedometers increase activity and decrease fatigue in rheumatoid arthritis patients

April 5, 2017
Providing pedometers, with and without providing step targets, to individuals with rheumatoid arthritis increased activity levels and decreased fatigue in a recent study.

Officers on afternoon shift report being more fatigued

June 6, 2017
Police officers on the afternoon shift are twice as likely to report being tired, according to a University at Buffalo-led study.

Anakinra ineffective for reducing symptoms of chronic fatigue

March 8, 2017
(HealthDay)—The anti-inflammatory biologic drug anakinra (Kineret) does not reduce fatigue severity in women with chronic fatigue syndrome, according to a study published online March 7 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Fatigue occurs in 50 percent with chronic plaque psoriasis

February 15, 2017
(HealthDay)—About half of patients with chronic plaque psoriasis have fatigue, according to a study published online Feb. 9 in the British Journal of Dermatology.

Recommended for you

Teens get more sleep with later school start time, researchers find

December 12, 2018
When Seattle Public Schools announced that it would reorganize school start times across the district for the fall of 2016, the massive undertaking took more than a year to deploy. Elementary schools started earlier, while ...

Large restaurant portions a global problem, study finds

December 12, 2018
A new multi-country study finds that large, high-calorie portion sizes in fast food and full service restaurants is not a problem unique to the United States. An international team of researchers found that 94 percent of ...

Receiving genetic information can change risk

December 11, 2018
Millions of people in the United States alone have submitted their DNA for analysis and received information that not only predicts their risk for disease but, it turns out, in some cases might also have influenced that risk, ...

Yes please to yoghurt and cheese: The new improved Mediterranean diet

December 11, 2018
Thousands of Australians can take heart as new research from the University of South Australia shows a dairy-enhanced Mediterranean diet will significantly increase health outcomes for those at risk of cardiovascular disease ...

Effect of oral alfacalcidol on clinical outcomes in patients without secondary hyperparathyroidism

December 11, 2018
Treatment with active vitamin D did not decrease cardiovascular events in kidney patients undergoing hemodialysis, according to a research group in Japan. They have reported their research results in the December 11 issue ...

Licence to Swill: James Bond's drinking over six decades

December 10, 2018
He may be licensed to kill but fictional British secret service agent James Bond has a severe alcohol use disorder, according to an analysis of his drinking behaviour published in the Medical Journal of Australia's Christmas ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.