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Survey of occupational fatigue in anaesthetists in Australia and New Zealand

Graduate School of Medicine, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales

Summary

Occupational fatigue in anaesthetists is recognised as a patient safety risk. Better understanding of the issues surrounding their fatigue is needed. This study aimed to ascertain the sources and effects of occupational fatigue amongst anaesthetists in Australia and New Zealand. An anonymous online survey was sent to 979 anaesthetists. The response rate was 38.0%. Most participants reported regularly working over 40 hours per week; men reported five more hours per week than women. Stated contributors to fatigue included long work hours, mental strain at work, and personal and family demands. Fatigue-related behaviour was reported more by men (OR [odds ratio]=2.6) and less by respondents reporting eight or more hours of sleep before work (OR=0.6). Reporting at least one instance of less than five hours off between shifts was predictive of falling asleep while administering an anaesthetic (OR=1.6). More data are required to support practices and policies that promote more time off between work periods and increased time for sleep to reduce risk of fatigue.

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