Airline Pilots and Nurses

  1. This morning on the news I heard of an investigation by the FAA regarding airline pilots and overtime. I found it amazing that they find that airline pilots who have worked 14 hours are involved in more fatal crashes than those who have only worked 8 hours. GEE, HOW ABOUT THE NURSE WHO IS IN HER 16TH HOUR OF WORK? Isn't she unsafe too - I mean, what if she administers a fatal medication dose - and if she is that tired, she will not even realize she has done it? Or the nurse is so tired she can't recognize when a patient is crashing? Or the nurse who is so wiped out that she transcribes the doctor's crappy handwritting incorrectly and the wrong med is administered for days before the error is found?
    WHY ARE AIRLINE PILOTS ANY DIFFERENT THAN WE ARE - because they can kill HUNDREDS at one time and we only can wipe out one at a time. IS there a difference?
    When is the government, who gives lip service to being concerned over fatal medication errors, going to put 2 and 2 together and realize that med errors and tired nurses go hand in glove, and that these same nurses are putting in a lot more hours than the airline pilots?? HOW MANY DO WE HAVE TO KILL TO DRAW ATTENTION TO THE PROBLEM?
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  2. 9 Comments

  3. by   Iflew
    Hi Sparrow,

    I agree with you. I am an airline pilot who lost his job and am seriously considering going into nursing. It all comes down to greed and the bean counters. Each life is given a pay-out value, and the costs are compared to adequate staffing / rest.

    When we would fly a professional sports team, we would often go on duty at 9pm, and off duty around noon. One big advantage we had was three in the cockpit watching each-other. In the interest of safety, sometimes alternating cat-naps theoretically took place. In my earlier days, I remember slapping myself in the face to stay awake while flying. Allowing long duty days allowed profit margins to soar, and that is what is important, right? If fatigue caused an accident, WE should have known to call "fatigue" - which you theoretically couldn't get into trouble for doing.

    I agree that in the medical field, CEO's feel you only kill one at a time, so it is not that big of a deal. Politicians don't want to change things either as they would lose financial support. Everything is acceptable as long as it is not your own family member.

    I guess the only solution is to have the tally of fatigue related deaths go high enough that adequate staffing / rest regulations will occur.

    Is there such a thing as calling "fatigue" in the medical field?
    Last edit by Iflew on Nov 2, '08 : Reason: Punctuation
  4. by   tntrn
    My DH, retired last year after 38 years of wide body jet flying, and I've said for 23 of those years (the ones I've known him) that nurses should have a daily, monthly and yearly work hour cap, just like the pilots do.

    Pilots can work 1000 hours a year, so the airline has to carefully divide those 1000 hours up over 12 months so that there are pilots left at the end of the year who still are legal to fly. And even with strict flight rules, rest rules, these guys do not get proper rest much of the time when you consider many of them are trying to sleep in the daytime in hotels where the housekeeping people are outside running vacuums, the garbage trucks are up early in the morning.

    I believe nursing should have some serious limits on number of hours worked in a single shift, how many of those shifts can be worked one after the other and monthly limits.
  5. by   ShayRN
    No way could I personally work 12 hour shifts consistantly. I did it for about a year and felt like a zombie. Every now and then I will work a double, but then it takes a day or two to feel normal again. I don't know how people do this on a consistant basis.
  6. by   tntrn
    Quote from ShayRN
    No way could I personally work 12 hour shifts consistantly. I did it for about a year and felt like a zombie. Every now and then I will work a double, but then it takes a day or two to feel normal again. I don't know how people do this on a consistant basis.
    I will add to that. Based on what you just stated, and on my own observations of the 12 nurses I work with, I am very wary of having a 12 hour nurse as my nurse, or for any of my family members. I'm not above questioning them about how many 12's they do in a row, and which one of those in this rotation today is. I would maybe go so far as to request someone who's actually had some rest and days off.
  7. by   Spidey's mom
    My husband looked over my shoulder as I read this thread and said in a slightly sarcastic tone . . .

    "Yeah, loggers need to have work cap too".

    He has a hard time understanding why people complain about working 12 hours. He grew up on a farm and you got up at 0430 to milk and feed the cows and do other chores. You then head to school. Come home and do chores. He has worked as a farmer and logger his entire life and you work until the job is done, whether the sun goes down or not. Harvest time can be 16 hour days. Driving a logging truck usually starts at 0230 in order to get out into the woods and get your load of logs and then to the mill as it opens . . in order to make a living you have to get 5 or 6 loads a day and the mill closes at 5 or 6 p.m.

    So when I complain about working 12 hours - he has no sympathy for my side of the story.

    steph
  8. by   tntrn
    Quote from Spidey's mom
    My husband looked over my shoulder as I read this thread and said in a slightly sarcastic tone . . .

    "Yeah, loggers need to have work cap too".

    He has a hard time understanding why people complain about working 12 hours. He grew up on a farm and you got up at 0430 to milk and feed the cows and do other chores. You then head to school. Come home and do chores. He has worked as a farmer and logger his entire life and you work until the job is done, whether the sun goes down or not. Harvest time can be 16 hour days. Driving a logging truck usually starts at 0230 in order to get out into the woods and get your load of logs and then to the mill as it opens . . in order to make a living you have to get 5 or 6 loads a day and the mill closes at 5 or 6 p.m.

    So when I complain about working 12 hours - he has no sympathy for my side of the story.

    steph
    I know exactly what you mean, having grown up on a farm. It was sun up to sun down and beyond. And it still kills me that people think daylight savings time helps the farmers. What a joke! (Or loggers!)

    It is little different though, I believe, when you have a multi million dollar airplane signed out to you with 260-400 people counting on you to be perfectly on your game. Or when you're giving meds to 8-10 people...
  9. by   Spidey's mom
    Quote from tntrn
    I know exactly what you mean, having grown up on a farm. It was sun up to sun down and beyond. And it still kills me that people think daylight savings time helps the farmers. What a joke! (Or loggers!)

    It is little different though, I believe, when you have a multi million dollar airplane signed out to you with 260-400 people counting on you to be perfectly on your game. Or when you're giving meds to 8-10 people...
    I know - I say the same thing to him. He says a loaded logging truck on a highway is just as dangerous.

    Which sorta makes MY point about fatigue and dangerous occupations. . . .(and what about tractors and falling trees and coworkers).

    steph
  10. by   akai6
    I agree wholeheartedly.. I am an Acute HD Nurse is an area where the diabetic community is very high, not to mention the ESRD patients. I myself have worked as much as 85 hours over 4 days and was told repeatedly that there was no help. I mean I am working with acute failures, new starts, waaaaaay critical patients, hello patient neglect. What makes that ok.. I recently worked 21 days straight, while taking call for all those days, by that last day I was so work out I couldnt even sleep. I kept waking up thinking that I was falling asleep at work monitoring patients (fully sitting up in bed at home). How is that ok? It seems that society thinks that we are "supposed" to do that.. We are caregivers and like someone earlier in the thread said, its just one person at a time, not 100+ in some tragic crash.
  11. by   Otessa
    Married to an airline pilot and for the past 16 years he is stumped by healthcare. He has fielded way too many calls when I am sleeping after my 4th 12 hour night shift in a row to see if I wanted to work AGAIN that night.

    I worked too many 16 hour shifts in my day and think about how it didn't matter that I was able to coherently take care of patients but that I was a body to fill the hole..........

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