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Sleep Deprivation and Error in Nurses who Work the Night Shift

Johnson, Arlene L. PhD; Jung, Lorena PhD; Brown, Kathleen C. PhD; Weaver, Michael T. PhD; Richards, Kathy C. PhD

JONA: The Journal of Nursing Administration: January 2014 - Volume 44 - Issue 1 - p 17–22
doi: 10.1097/NNA.0000000000000016

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between sleep deprivation and occupational and patient care errors among staff nurses who work the night shift.

BACKGROUND: Whereas the aviation and trucking industries report that sleep deprivation increases errors, few studies have examined sleep deprivation association with occupational and patient care errors among nurses.

METHODS: A cross-sectional correlational design was used to evaluate relationships between sleep deprivation and occupational and patient care errors in 289 hospital night shift nurses.

RESULTS: More than half (56%) of the sample reported being sleep deprived. Sleep-deprived nurses made more patient care errors. Testing for associations with occupational errors was not feasible because of the low number of occupational errors reported.

CONCLUSION: Interventions to increase the quality and quantity of sleep among hospital night shift nurses are needed. Improved sleep among night shift nurses will reduce the impact of sleep deprivation on patient care errors.

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Author Affiliations: Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Drs Johnson and Jung) and Assistant Dean, Doctoral Division & Research Development (Dr Richards), School of Nursing, College of Health and Human Services, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia; Professor and Chair Community Health, Outcomes, and Systems (Dr Brown), School of Nursing, University of Alabama at Birmingham; Director of Statistical Services (Dr Weaver), School of Nursing, Indiana University, Indianapolis.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Correspondence: Dr Johnson, School of Nursing, Sojourner Douglass College, 200 Central Ave, Baltimore, MD 22021 (

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