The American Journal of Critical Care has this month published an article investigating the relationship between critical care nurses’ physical and mental health, their perception of workplace wellness support and self-reported medical errors.

In a 2019 survey, 771 critical care nurses were asked to self-report on their level of overall health, symptoms of depression and anxiety, stress, burnout, perceived worksite wellness support and medical errors. The results indicate a workplace environment putting healthcare workers at risk and, therefore, potentially endangering patients.

A majority reported suffering from poor physical health (61%), poor mental health (51%), and symptoms of anxiety (53.2%), and a substantial proportion reported symptoms of depression (39.5%) and high levels of stress (42.2%). Significantly, in every metric, those who reported worse overall health also reported having made more medical errors over the last five years, at rates from 31% to 62% more likely to have made an error. This further reinforces the clear relationship between healthcare worker safety and patient safety.

It is also worth noting that, since these results were found before the COVID-19 pandemic, more recent levels of stress, anxiety and depression are likely to be even higher than those recorded in this survey.

The article goes on to explain that nurses with higher perceived workplace wellness support were more likely to report good health, and were therefore less likely to make medical errors. As such, healthcare leaders must prioritise the wellbeing of nurses and other healthcare workers by fixing systemic issues that create stress and burnout, and creating and developing wellness cultures.

For the full article and results, go to: