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Fatigue in air medical clinicians undertaking high-acuity patient transports
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Surgical and Perioperative Sciences, Anaesthesiology. Occupational and Aviation Medicine, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand.
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2015 (English)In: Prehospital Emergency Care, ISSN 1090-3127, E-ISSN 1545-0066, Vol. 19, no 1, 36-43 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Fatigue is likely to be a significant issue for air medical transport clinicians due to the challenging nature of their work, but there is little published evidence for this. Objective: To prospectively assess the levels and patterns of fatigue in air medical transport teams and determine whether specific mission factors influenced clinician fatigue. Methods: Physicians and flight nurses from two intensive care interhospital transport teams routinely completed fatigue report forms before and after patient transport missions over a 4-month period. Data collected included subjective ratings of fatigue (Samn-Perelli and visual analog scale), mission difficulty and performance. Multivariate hierarchical logistic and linear models were used to evaluate the influence of various mission characteristics on post-mission fatigue. Results: Clinicians returned 403 fully complete fatigue report forms at an estimated overall return rate of 73%. Fatigue increased significantly over the course of missions, and on 1 of every 12 fatigue reports returned clinicians reported severe post-mission fatigue (that is, levels of 6 or 7 on the Samn-Perelli scale). Factors that impacted significantly on clinician fatigue were the pre-mission fatigue level of the clinician, night work, mission duration, and mission difficulty. Poorer self-rated performance was significantly associated with higher levels of fatigue (r = -0.4, 95% CI -0.5 to -0.3), and for the 6-month period leading up to the study clinicians reported a total of 22 occasions on which they should have declined a mission due to fatigue. Conclusions: These results suggest that clinicians undertaking interhospital transports of even moderate duration experience high levels of fatigue on a relatively frequent basis. In the unique and challenging environment of air medical transport, prior fatigue, long or difficult missions, and the disadvantageous effect of night work on normal circadian rhythms are a combination where there are minimal safety margins for clinicians' performance capacity. Fatigue prevention or fatigue resistance measures could positively affect air medical clinicians in this context.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Informa Healthcare, 2015. Vol. 19, no 1, 36-43 p.
Keyword [en]
fatigue, transportation of patients, air ambulances, medical staff
National Category
Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-91637DOI: 10.3109/10903127.2014.936633ISI: 000346081400006PubMedID: 25076389OAI: diva2:737531
Available from: 2014-08-13 Created: 2014-08-13 Last updated: 2015-01-16Bibliographically approved

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Haney, Michael F
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