Health official wants to find ways to reduce stress and fatigue
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/24/2012 -- Overwork is “wrecking” Jamaica’s doctors and nurses and threatens the island’s health care, a leading official said.
Lyttleton Shirley, chairman of the South East Regional Health Authority, called for improved staff rotations to reduce fatigue and stress that can lead to medical errors.
“We must start a self-examination and distribution of resources,” Shirley said, according to Jamaica’s The Gleaner newspaper. “Overtime and sessional duties are wrecking our nurses and our doctors and causing underlying compromised care to our patients.”
Shirley spoke recently to a conference of the Nurses’ Association of Jamaica in Ocho Rios.
Health care providers must rotate staff so that long working hours don’t take such a toll.
“Certainly, this will reduce the potential risk of fatigue, errors, poor mannerisms, poor communication, high stress levels, family dysfunctionality due to absenteeism, and subtle power play,” Shirley told the conference.
Doctors and nurses have to take responsibility for care provided, he said, and warned of legal action by patients who felt they had been wronged.
“Some of the complains we are getting from our patients are most disturbing,” Shirley said, “and our legal department at the ministry and at the region is now inundated with lawsuits … with the possibility of large compensations being awarded.”
Still, he had praise for healthcare professionals on the island, saying that nurses often go beyond the technical care that is required.
“There are not many people whose lives have not been touched by the care and reassurance that nurses provide every hour of the day, every day of the year,” Shirley said.
A top health official last year caused a furor when he said that doctors at a poorly-staffed hospital had collapsed from exhaustion after all-night shifts.
Dr. Dayton Campbell, a member of Parliament and former president of the Jamaica Medical Doctors’ Association, described conditions at Cornwall Regional Hospital in testimony before a parliamentary committee.
The Western Regional Health Authority’s chairman, Noel Donaldson, disputed Campbell’s account.
Ten hospitals comprise the South East Regional Health Authority.
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