Giving Compass' Take:

• New research offers ways to alleviate stress and address burnout among doctors and nurses who are working to battle COVID-19. 

• What role can donors play in helping to mitigate some of the challenges for doctors and nurses during this time? 

• Read more on how doctors and nurses treating COVID-19 patients are experiencing mental health issues.

In the recent article in the journal Anesthesia & Analgesia, researchers outline the effects of fatigue and burnout on intensive care unit (ICU) workers.

“The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated an already existing problem within our health care systems and is exposing the pernicious implications of provider burnout,” says coauthor Farzan Sasangohar, assistant professor in the department of industrial and systems engineering at Texas A&M University.

Health care workers are experiencing added stress from multiple areas. Many of them are working longer shifts and experiencing more deaths. The lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and training on how to use new equipment causes many professionals to question if they have been exposed. This leads to fear that they could infect their family and loved ones.

Health care workers need effective PPE readily accessible and available to ensure their safety and that of their patients. Getting the necessary equipment has been challenging due to the low numbers of PPE and ventilators in the US Strategic National Stockpile and delays getting equipment into local areas. This slow response, which has caused some providers to reuse PPE past the point of safety and warranty protections, can contribute to anxiety in providers.

To reduce provider burnout and fatigue, the researchers recommend:

  • Pandemic plans should include guidance for relevant industries to quickly transition into producing needed medical supplies
  • National and regional disaster mitigation plans to help shorten the time needed to provide necessary equipment and testing
  • Provision of adequate numbers of test kits and PPE
  • Training on disaster management and response for medical professionals
  • Relaxing licensing restrictions for individuals licensed outside their state of residence
  • Creating a medical reserve corps of these licensed individuals
  • Using wearable sensors to monitor health care workers’ mental health and provide simple ways to mitigate anxiety and stress.

Read the full article about how healthcare workers can avoid burnout at Futurity.