Nurses working in hospitals and other healthcare facilities throughout Florida, across the country and around the world are experiencing extremely high rates of burnout. Covid-19 has placed enormous pressures on front-line nurses, with each new wave of the virus compounding the stress level. For many nurses, the stress has become unbearable, affecting their physical and mental health as well as their job performance and personal relationships.
In this blog post, we will examine the causes and effects of nurse burnout. Of special concern are the effects prolonged stress and fatigue can have on a nurse’s career and future.
Causes of Burnout for Florida Nurses Treating Covid-19 Patients
Nursing has always been a high-stress profession because of the numerous responsibilities, skills and pace required to provide quality patient care. It is no surprise that the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated this situation, increasing nurses’ stress levels exponentially.
News reports show that nurses are experiencing trauma because of the unending stream of Covid patients in critical condition. The constant exposure to pain, suffering, death and worried family members, combined with not having enough time to spend with each patient, is a recipe for burnout. Adding to the stress is nurses’ fear of getting sick themselves or infecting their families, as they see their colleagues getting sick and dying.
Because of the pandemic, hospitals are understaffed, many nurses are leaving the profession and those who are not, are severely overworked. They experience immense frustration because they are unable to give their patients the time and individual attention that they wish they could provide. In many cases, they cannot provide the quality of care they know their patients need. Nurses’ frustration and exhaustion, coupled with long shifts and constant physical work, deplete their physical, mental, and emotional resources.
Sadly, many patients’ lives cannot be saved, despite the best efforts of nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers. And just when it looks like relief is in sight, another Covid wave hits. Stress rises because of all the uncertainty. No one knows what will happen next in the pandemic or when, or even if, it will finally end. All this contributes to nurses feeling overwhelmed, helpless, and hopeless.
Signs of Nurse Burnout
Burnout has been recognized as a problem within the nursing profession for many years. A large study published in JAMA Network Open showed that 31.5% of registered nurses in the U.S. left their jobs in 2018 because they were feeling burnt out. Factors causing burnout before Covid included long hours, lack of sleep, a high-stress environment, lack of support, having a high number of patients to care for and high mortality rates. Covid has made every one of these factors even worse.
A systematic review of literature on the global prevalence of nurse burnout showed that early signs of burnout are feelings of being detached or disengaged. Other signs are emotional exhaustion, decreased productivity and illness. Nurses suffering from burnout may feel intense anxiety, fear, and dread when they come to work. Some may feel depressed, irritable, and cynical. They may dread the future and lose faith in the value of what they are doing.
How Common is Nurse Burnout During the Covid Pandemic?
A poll taken in the spring of 2021 found that 60% of healthcare workers in the U.S. said they were burnt out because of the Covid pandemic. Another survey conducted around the same time by the Yale School of Public Health found that 25% of healthcare workers showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and 43% admitted to problems with alcohol.
A recent New York Times report on burnout claims that “the crisis is really at its worst point since the beginning of the pandemic.” More nurses than ever are leaving the profession, which is leading to increased staffing shortages and increased stress and burnout for the nurses who must continue caring for the influx of Covid patients that every new variant brings.
The Effects of Nurse Burnout
Stress, despair and exhaustion can cause nurses to be less productive and to make more mistakes. As a result, the quality of patient care may suffer. Examples of mistakes made by fatigued nurses include errors in giving medications, mistakes in charting, and treating the wrong patients. Nurses who are severely burnt out may cope by quitting their jobs or by turning to drugs or alcohol.
Unfortunately, nurses suffering from burnout may also run into problems with the professional disciplinary system. They may be accused of substance abuse or malpractice, complaints may be filed with the Florida Department of Health, and disciplinary action may be taken against their nursing licenses. Nurses in this situation need support and guidance from someone who understands what they are going through and who knows how to protect the licenses and careers of healthcare professionals.
Get the Help You Need from an Experienced Florida Nursing License Defense Attorney
If someone has filed a complaint against you with the Florida Department of Health, Attorney Jonathan Rose can help fight the allegations and protect your nursing license. He is a Florida nursing license defense attorney whose law practice focuses on providing legal advice and representation to nurses, doctors, and other healthcare professionals to defend their licenses and protect their futures.
If you are facing disciplinary action in Florida, or if you suspect that you are being investigated for professional misconduct, you should take immediate action. This may be difficult when you are already feeling overwhelmed, but it is important to talk to an experienced healthcare defense attorney before taking any action or making any statement on the matter. Attorney Rose can intervene and help you seek a dismissal or reduced sanctions.
Please get the help you need to protect your nursing license. Call us at 407-894-4555 or submit the “Tell Us What Happened” form on our website.