Sleep quality, but not quantity, is associated with self-perceived minor error rates among emergency department nurses

Amy L. Weaver, Sonja E. Stutzman, Charlene Supnet, DaiWai M. Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations


Introduction: The emergency department (ED) is demanding and high risk. The impact of sleep quantity has been hypothesized to impact patient care. This study investigated the hypothesis that fatigue and impaired mentation, due to sleep disturbance and shortened overall sleeping hours, would lead to increased nursing errors. Methods: This is a prospective observational study of 30 ED nurses using self-administered survey and sleep architecture measured by wrist actigraphy as predictors of self-reported error rates. An actigraphy device was worn prior to working a 12-hour shift and nurses completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). Error rates were reported on a visual analog scale at the end of a 12-hour shift. Results: The PSQI responses indicated that 73.3% of subjects had poor sleep quality. Lower sleep quality measured by actigraphy (hours asleep/hours in bed) was associated with higher self-perceived minor errors. Sleep quantity (total hours slept) was not associated with minor, moderate, nor severe errors. Discussion: Our study found that ED nurses' sleep quality, immediately prior to a working 12-hour shift, is more predictive of error than sleep quantity. These results present evidence that a "good night's sleep" prior to working a nursing shift in the ED is beneficial for reducing minor errors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-52
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Emergency Nursing
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016



  • Emergency nursing
  • Error rates
  • Fatigue
  • Medical errors
  • Nursing care
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Sleep quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency

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