8 ways for you and your staff to prevent holiday stress

December 20, 2012

Fatigue, physical or mental impairment, distractions, multitasking, and interruptions were factors in several of the closed liability cases that have been studied by The Doctors Company since 2010. The malpractice insurer has been tracking human factors as risk management issues.

 

Fatigue, physical or mental impairment, distractions, multitasking, and interruptions were factors in several of the closed liability cases that have been studied by The Doctors Company since 2010. The malpractice insurer has been tracking human factors as risk management issues.

Of the 862 cases studied, 114 (13%) included at least one human factor issue. Within those 114 cases, 14% dealt with conditions affecting the aforementioned conditions affecting providers.

"Stress management skills are not traditionally part of medical school curriculum," according to the company. "Most healthcare professionals are taught to put their heads down and persevere."

Medical professionals are increasingly in demand, and millions of patients are about to become newly insured. These facts alone are enough to cause stress, and the hectic schedules and tasks associated with the holidays can add additional stress to physicians and practice staff members. The Doctors Company offers the following tips to avoid or reduce stress around the holidays:

  • Ensure adequate holiday staffing.

  • Monitor staff schedules and curtail hours as needed to prevent undue fatigue.

  • Call in additional physicians and staff members to combat fatigue and stress.

  • Provide an environment that supports staff members so that they feel comfortable expressing concerns about their stress level and ability to function effectively.

  • Allow staff members to express concerns to each other and to you if they identify signs of fatigue or stress in their colleagues.

  • Encourage all staff members to take 20-minute meal breaks and to get fresh air to clear their minds at least once per shift.

  • Have regular one-on-one and group meetings with staff members to learn their thoughts on how to make the practice run more smoothly.

  • Encourage physicians and staff members to focus on circumstances they can change, not circumstances over which they have no control.
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