Critical care nurses experience higher rates of mental distress and poor health than other nurses, adversely affecting health care quality and safety. It is not known, however, how critical care nurses’ overall health affects the occurrence of medical errors.
To examine the associations among critical care nurses’ physical and mental health, perception of workplace wellness support, and self-reported medical errors.
This survey-based study used a cross-sectional, descriptive correlational design. A random sample of 2500 members of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses was recruited to participate in the study. The outcomes of interest were level of overall health, symptoms of depression and anxiety, stress, burnout, perceived worksite wellness support, and medical errors.
A total of 771 critical care nurses participated in the study. Nurses in poor physical and mental health reported significantly more medical errors than nurses in better health (odds ratio [95% CI]: 1.31 [0.96-1.78] for physical health, 1.62 [1.17-2.29] for depressive symptoms). Nurses who perceived that their worksite was very supportive of their well-being were twice as likely to have better physical health (odds ratio [95% CI], 2.16 [1.33-3.52]; 55.8%).
Hospital leaders and health care systems need to prioritize the health of their nurses by resolving system issues, building wellness cultures, and providing evidence-based wellness support and programming, which will ultimately increase the quality of patient care and reduce the incidence of preventable medical errors.