Exhausted Nurse Drives Off Top Floor of Massachusetts Hospital Garage

Studies have found that nurse fatigue can also result in patient safety issues, illness, mental health problems, and more.
Published: May 31, 2024

BOSTON – Doctors and nurses who work in hospitals often experience sleep deprivation, and when they do, dangerous or even deadly situations can occur.

Case in point: In the early morning of May 17, an exhausted, on-call nurse who works at Faulkner Hospital accidentally drove her car off the top floor of the medical facility’s parking garage.

The nurse fell asleep after putting her vehicle in reverse, reports Boston 25 News. Police officials said she hit the gas pedal rather than the brake, causing her car to go off the garage’s top floor head-first. She landed on a shed and then into some bushes. It’s unclear if she was injured as a result of the accident.

The nurse told authorities she had finished working her shift at Faulkner Hospital but was on call starting at 11 p.m. Instead of driving home, she chose to sleep in her car. She decided to move her car away from the lights, and that’s when the accident happened.

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According to a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Nurses Association, nurses often have vehicle accidents when they are driving home because they are exhausted due to working long shifts and compulsory overtime. It’s unclear if this was the issue with this accident.

Studies have also found that fatigue can lead to illness, dissatisfaction with their jobs, and mental health issues. It can also negatively affect patient health due to nurses making mistakes because they are exhausted.

Humans require about eight hours of sound sleep to perform at their best. Most people in law enforcement and related emergency services professions, however, obtain an average of only 6 1/2 hours of rest, according to Night Shift Survival. Additionally, being awake at work for 17 hours produces the fatigue-level performance equivalent to a blood alcohol level of .05, and 24 hours without sleep can produce the equivalence of .10 — legal intoxication in all states.

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