Scott says nurse leaders spend a lot of time thinking about the kinds of people who they hire to staff their unit, and this is, of course, critically important. A study I wrote about just last week associated lower odds of patient death with more years of nursing experience. But it's also important to think about how nurses work.
"It's not just about having the right mix of people, but really truly thinking about the other human factors that really affect the service and care," Scott says. "It's not just about the numbers, but it's about having a healthy environment with healthy employees. And how can we make that happen?"
Scott says nurse and hospital leaders should prioritize sleep and incorporate fatigue countermeasures into the workplace on an organization-wide level. Scott says HR policies where people can be fired if they take a nap are counterproductive. Instead, nurses should be encouraged to take real breaks—and turn off their phones!—and maybe even take 15-minute naps in designated quiet rooms.
Nurses who nap "would be so much more alert for the rest of their shift than having someone just continue to go through the motions," Scott says. Such "strategic naps" could really help nurses feel more alert.