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Letter to the Editor
Topic: A high workload is a heavy workload
I was quite interested to read that Rippstein-Leuenbergeret al., (2017), made reference to ‘high workload’ as an area that is very stressful for nurses. High workload may be regarded as ‘the ratio of nurses to the number of patients’ (Carayon & Gurses, 2008), and ‘the number of nursing interventions related to direct patient care’ (Lee et al., 2017).
As a registered nurse with over 20 years of experience working in Emergency rooms in hospitals both in England and the United States, and teaching, I am able to relate to the highly stressful work areas experienced by nurses working not only in Intensive Care Units but also in other areas as well . In my experiences, nurses typically made references to ‘heavy workload’ to also describe high nurse to patient ratios, compared to ‘high workload’ as used by the above authors.
According to Carlesi et al.,(2017), and Lee et al., (2017), ‘high workload’ and ‘heavy workload’ (Kendall-Raynor, 2011; Hakonsen et al., 2010) are used in studies to refer to the same thing. In fact, Carayon and Gurses (2008) used both terms in their study.
It is my humble suggestion, therefore, that as both ‘high workload’ and ‘heavy workload’ are terms that can, and have been, used interchangeably to mean the same thing, this letter should be amended to the above study to allay any misconception that may arise from future readership.
“A qualitative analysis of the Three Good Things intervention in healthcare workers” (Rippstein-Leuenberger, K., Mauthner, O., Sexton, J. B., & Schwendimann, R. (2017. BMJ Open, 7(5), e015826.).
Carayon, P. & Gurses, A.P. (2008). Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook
for Nurses. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2008 Apr. Publication No.: 08-0043
Carlesi, K. C., Padilha, K. G., Toffoletto, M. C., Henriquez-Roldán, C., & Juan, M. A. C. (2017). Patient Safety Incidents and Nursing Workload. Revista Latino-Americana de Enfermagem, 25(0). https://doi.org/10.1590/1518-8345.1280.2841
Hakonsen, H., Hopen, H. S., Abelsen, L., Ek, B., & Toverud, E.-L. (2010). Generic substitution: a potential risk factor for medication errors in hospitals. Advances in Therapy, 27(2), 118–126. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12325-010-0007-8
Kendall-Raynor, P. (2011). International Council of Nurses. Heavy workloads prevent focus on non-communicable diseases. Nursing Standard Vol 24 (36)
Lee, A., Cheung, Y. S. L., Joynt, G. M., Leung, C. C. H., Wong, W.-T., & Gomersall, C. D. (2017). Are high nurse workload/staffing ratios associated with decreased survival in critically ill patients? A cohort study. Annals of Intensive Care, 7(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13613-017-0269-2