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Stress in Nursing Practice

How Stress Affects the Quality of Patient Care

Nurses work in extremely sensitive environments. This means that if one works under stress, then they are bound to make errors. Stress can be attributed to many factors in the nursing profession, the principal one being extended work schedules. In the medical field, such errors could be fatal as they may cause death. A study carried out by Scott, Rogers and Balas in 2004, found out that around 30% of full time nurses who worked under stress made errors in their diagnosis. Here, a part from the medication errors, there were errors in the areas of procedures, transcribing orders, as well as documentation. Such errors significantly lower the quality of patient care by risking the lives of patients (Ellis, 2008).

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Additionally, studies show negative effects of stress on patient care. In his study titled, “ Work Stress and Burnout Among Nurses: Role of the Work Environment and Working Conditions”, Jennings reported that stress leads to an increase in mortality, dissatisfaction among the patients on the quality of care provided, and failure to rescue. For instance, it was reported that the 225 nurses studied, reported 76 incidents that the patients were negatively affected by their service. The interviewed nurses were said to offer poor quality service because they were affected by stress (Jennings, n.d). Evidently, the high rate of patient dissatisfaction shows that the service provided was of low quality.

The key players and their roles in alleviating stress

In order to find ways of alleviating stress among the nurses, there is a need to identify the main causes of stress. At the work place, stress is said to result from continued rise in the costs of health care, turbulent working environment and an increase in technology use. However, stress at home results from the conflicts in playing family roles. As such, the key players in work are the co-workers and the supervisors (Mimura & Griffins, 2011). The co-workers should relate with the nurses in a manner that does not result into anxiety which has been cited as a key cause of stress. To the supervisors, they should reduce the working hours of the nurses. Many of the nurses were found to suffer from burn-out due to long working hours. More so, there has to be good leadership especially from the supervisors (Jennings, n. d). This ensures that there is awareness of the numerous issues facing the staff. At home, it is the duty of the whole family to support the nurses so that they can balance between their family roles and their work roles.

The internal and/or external political and legal issues related to the issue

There is a need to formulate policies that will regulate work places in order to reduce stress among the workers. These regulations could be in form of a requirement to establish safe working environments based on the setting, patients and the needs of the providers. Additionally, it may be necessary to formulate programs with counter measures of stress (Ellis, 2008).

The relation to workplace violence in a clinical or hospital setting

As has been seen from recent studies, stress is said to result into conflicts in working places. A nurse working under stress may not relate well with other staff workers. Additionally, there may not be a close working relationship between a nurse and the supervisor. This could be due to work related issues as stress negatively affects the quality of medical care offered. Consequently, all these factors combined, result into violence (Masters, 2007).

A plan of action related to stress

Individual nurse Education, Collaborations
Employer Condusive working environment, Collaborations
Education programs Awareness creation, Structuring education programs
Research agenda Policy implications

On an individual basis, nurses are to be educated on how to avoid situations that could result into stress. Additionally, it is upon the employer to create a pleasant working environment that does not result into stress among the nurses. There is a need to institute programs that create awareness on the effects of stress at the workplace (Ellis, 2008).


Ellis, J.R. (2008). Quality of Care, Nurses’ Work Schedules, and Fatigue: A White Paper. Seattle: Washington State Nurses Association.

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Jennings, B. M. (n.d). Chapter 26. Work Stress and Burnout Among Nurses: Role of the Work Environment and Working Conditions. Web.

Masters, J. C. (2007). Job satisfaction, job stress, burnout, and intent to leave among accelerated and traditional baccalaureate in science in nursing graduates. Michigan: ProQuest.

Mimura, C., & Griffins, P. (2011). The effectiveness of current approaches to workplace stress management in the nursing profession: an evidence based literature review. Web.

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