Bright environmental light improves the sleepiness of night shift ICU nurses

This article by Griepentrog and others was published in Critical Care in November 2018.
Background:  Shift work can disturb circadian homeostasis and result in fatigue, excessive sleepiness, and reduced quality of life. Lighttherapy has been shown to impart positive effects in night shift workers. Wesought to determine whether or not prolonged exposure to bright light during anight shift reduces sleepiness and enhances psychomotor performance among ICUnurses.
Methods:  This is a single-center randomized, cross over clinical trial at a surgical trauma ICU. ICU nurses working a night shift were exposed to a 10-h period of high illuminance (1500-2000 lx) white light compared to standard ambient fluorescent lighting of the hospital. They then completed the Stanford Sleepiness Scale and the Psychomotor Vigilance Test. The primary and secondary endpoints were analyzed using the paired t test. Ap value <0.05 was considered significant.
Results:  A total of 43 matched pairs completed both lighting exposures and were analyzed. When exposed to high illuminance lighting subjects experienced reduced sleepiness scores on the Stanford Sleepiness Scalethan when exposed to standard hospital lighting: mean (sem) 2.6 (0.2) vs. 3.0(0.2), p = 0.03. However, they committed more psychomotor errors: 2.3 (0.2) vs.1.7 (0.2), p = 0.03.
Conclusions:  A bright lighting environment for ICU nurses working the night shift reduces sleepiness but increases the number of psychomotor errors.

The full text of this article is freely available via this link.


Identifying determinants of noise in a medical intensive care unit

This article by Crawford and others was published in the September 2018 issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.
Continuous and intermittent exposure to noise elevates stress, increases blood pressure, and disrupts sleep among patients in hospital intensive care units. The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of a behavior-based intervention to reduce noise and to identify determinants of noise in a medical intensive care unit.  Staff were trained for six weeks to reduce noise during their activities in an effort to keep noise levels below 55 dBA during the day and below 50 dBA at night. One-min noise levels were logged continuously in patient rooms eight weeks before and after the intervention. Noise levels were compared by room position, occupancy status, and time of day. Noise levels from flagged days (>60 dBA for >10 hrs) were correlated with activity logs. The intervention was ineffective with noise frequently exceeding project goals during the day and night. Noise levels were higher in rooms with the oldest heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system, even when patient rooms were unoccupied. Of the flagged days, the odds of noise over 60 dBA occurring was 5.3 higher when high-flow respiratory support devices were in use compared to times with low-flow devices in use (OR= 5.3, 95% CI = 5.0 – 5.5). General sources, like the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system, contribute to high baseline noise and high-volume (>10 L/min) respiratory-support devices generate additional high noise (>60 dBA) in Intensive Care Unit patient rooms. This work suggests that engineering controls (e.g., ventilation changes or equipment shielding) may be more effective in reducing noise in hospital intensive care units than behavior modification alone.
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Hand Hygiene in Intensive Care Units: A Matter of Time?

Stahmeyer, J.T. The Journal of Hospital Infection. Published online: January 28, 2017


Background: Healthcare-associated infections are a frequent threat to patient safety and cause significant disease burden. The most important single preventive measure is hand hygiene (HH). Barriers to adherence with HH recommendations include structural aspects, knowledge gaps, and organizational issues, especially a lack of time in daily routine.

Conclusion: Complying with guidelines is time consuming. Sufficient time for HH should be considered in staff planning.

Read the full abstract here

Perceived Nonbeneficial Treatment of Patients, Burnout, and Intention to Leave the Job Among ICU Nurses and Junior and Senior Physicians.

Schwarzkopf, D. et al. Critical Care Medicine. Published online: October 21 2016

businessman-150451_960_720Objectives: Perceiving nonbeneficial treatment is stressful for ICU staff and may be associated with burnout. We aimed to investigate predictors and consequences of perceived nonbeneficial treatment and to compare nurses and junior and senior physicians.

Design: Cross-sectional, multicenter paper-pencil survey on personal and work-related characteristics, perceived nonbeneficial treatment, burnout, and intention to leave the job.

Setting: Convenience sample of 23 German ICUs.

Subjects: ICU nurses and physicians.

Interventions: None.

Measurements and Main Results: A total of 847 questionnaires were returned (51% response); 778 had complete data for final multivariate analyses. Nonbeneficial treatment was in median perceived “sometimes.” Adjusted for covariates, it was perceived more often by nurses and junior physicians (both p <= 0.001 in comparison to senior physicians), while emotional exhaustion was highest in junior physicians (p <= 0.015 in comparison to senior physicians and nurses), who also had a higher intention to leave than nurses (p = 0.024). Nonbeneficial treatment was predicted by high workload and low quality collaboration with other departments (both p <= 0.001). Poor nurse-physician collaboration predicted perception of nonbeneficial treatment among junior physicians and nurses (both p <= 0.001) but not among senior physicians (p = 0.753). Nonbeneficial treatment was independently associated with the core burnout dimension emotional exhaustion (p <= 0.001), which significantly mediated the effect between nonbeneficial treatment and intention to leave (indirect effect: 0.11 [95% CI, 0.06-0.18]).

Conclusions: Perceiving nonbeneficial treatment is related to burnout and may increase intention to leave. Efforts to reduce perception of nonbeneficial treatment should improve the work environment and should be tailored to the different experiences of nurses and junior and senior physicians.

Read the abstract here


Moral distress: an inevitable part of neonatal and paediatric intensive care?

Field. D. et al. Archives of Disease in Childhood. doi:10.1136/archdischild-2015-310268

The paper by Prentice et al reports a systematic review of moral distress occurring in neonatal and paediatric intensive care units. This term, which may be unfamiliar to many readers, has been defined as the anguish experienced when a health professional makes a clear moral judgement about what action he/she should take but is unable to act accordingly due to constraints (societal, institutional or contextual).2 In a situation of moral distress, the health professional can see, from their point of view, that there is an ethically correct action but is powerless to act, a situation that will be familiar to all those who work in neonatal or paediatric intensive care teams.

Moral distress is not a new phenomenon, although the scenarios where it arises may have changed due to developments in society’s beliefs and the healthcare system and dramatic improvements in technology. Perhaps the most clear UK example of how the views of society at large have changed in this context over time comes from the trial of Dr Leonard Arthur (; accessed 21 March 2016). In 1981, Dr Arthur, a paediatrician based in the English Midlands, was tried for attempted murder following the death of a newborn baby with Down’s syndrome whom he had prescribed ‘nursing care only’ and sedatives.

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The critical care nurse work environment, physician staffing, and risk for ventilator-associated pneumonia

Costa, D.K. et al. American Journal of Infection Control. Published online: 12 May 2016

11556-2We examined the relationship between intensivist physician staffing, nurse work environment, and ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) in 25 intensive care units. We found a significant interaction between the nurse work environment, intensivist physician staffing, and VAP. Future work may need to focus on fostering organizational collaboration between nursing and medicine to leverage skills of both clinician groups to reduce risk for VAP in critically ill patients.

Read the abstract here