Nurses with poor mental or physical health significantly more likely to make clinical errors, finds study

Nurses who worked with employers who offered greater support were more than twice as likely to have better personal health and quality of life at work.

James McKay
11 May 2021
Hospital curtain intensive care

Half of the nurses questioned reported either suboptimal physical or mental health.

Nurses with poor mental or physical health are significantly more likely to make clinical errors, according to a new US study.

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A study, led by the Ohio State University College of Nursing and published in the American Journal of Critical Care, discovered that critical care nurses in poor physical and mental health made significantly more clinical errors than their counterparts in good health.

The study found that nurses who admitted to having issues with either their physical or mental health had almost a significantly 31-62% higher likelihood of making clinical mistakes.

Of the 800 nurses surveyed for the research, over half reported either suboptimal physical or mental health.

Nurses who worked with employers who offered greater support were more than twice as likely to have better personal health and quality of life at work.

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Pouring from an empty cup.

Two in every five nursing staff who took part in the survey screened positive for depressive symptoms while more than half screened positive for anxiety.

The authors warn that levels of stress, anxiety, and depression are likely even higher now during the pandemic than before, when the study was conducted.

Bernadette Melnyk, Lead Author and Vice President for Health Promotion, Chief Wellness Officer and Dean of the College of Nursing at Ohio State, commented on the findings; “nurses, like so many other clinicians, cannot continue to pour from an empty cup.

“System problems that contribute to burnout and poor health need to be fixed.

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“Nurses need support and investment in evidence-based programming and resources that enhance their well-being and equip them with resiliency so they can take optimal care of patients.”

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