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Extant research has established an empirical relationship between fatigue and safety-related outcomes. It is not clear if these findings are relevant to Canadian paramedicine. The purpose of this study was to determine if fatigue and shiftwork variables were related to safety outcomes in Canadian paramedics.
A survey was conducted with ten paramedic services in Ontario with a 40.5% response rate (n = 717). Respondents reported levels of fatigue, safety outcomes (injury, safety compromising behaviours, and medical errors/adverse events), work patterns (types of shifts, hours worked weekly) and demographic characteristics. Univariate and logistic regression analyses were used to assess for significant differences.
In this sample, 55% of paramedics reported being fatigued at work. Fatigued paramedics were over twice as likely to report injuries, three times as likely to report safety compromising behaviors, and 1.5 times more likely to report errors/adverse outcomes. When controlling for fatigue, shift length variables did not consistently influence safety outcomes.
These results create preliminary evidence of a relationship between fatigue and safety outcomes in Canadian paramedicine. While more research is needed, these findings point to the influence fatigue has on safety outcomes and provide an indication that fatigue mitigation efforts may be worthwhile.
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