The foundation of any healthcare system’s strength is its ability to ensure patient safety. A study titled “Patient Safety Culture among Healthcare Professionals in Bhutan”, says that workload and persistent fatigue among healthcare workers are leading to a surge in medical errors and patient safety events. The finding demands immediate attention.

The study, encompassing the experiences of 694 participants, including 304 nurses in the country, highlights a grave issue. A majority of these healthcare professionals expressed feelings of being overworked. The consequences of overwork and fatigue on healthcare professionals are not limited to mere job dissatisfaction. They ripple outward, affecting the lives and well-being of the patients who entrust their health to these dedicated individuals.

The healthcare system is the bedrock of any nation. Patients must be able to rely on the competence and dedication of their healthcare providers. However, when those very providers are stretched beyond their limits, it’s the patients who bear the brunt. The link between excessive workload and medical errors is undeniable. The more healthcare workers are burdened, the higher the likelihood of critical mistakes that can lead to severe harm or even death. This is not just a theoretical problem, but also a tangible, life-and-death reality.

The consequences of overwork in healthcare are multifaceted. Not only does it increase the risk of medical errors, but the situation could also lead to burnout and the attrition of skilled professionals. There are serious signs of this happening in our health centres.

The exodus of healthcare workers is detrimental to the very foundation of healthcare, which can result in a vicious cycle that ultimately compromises patient safety. When the reputation of healthcare institutions erodes, the public’s trust and faith in the system go away with it.

Patient safety culture should be embedded in the very DNA of healthcare institutions. It should be reflected in the attitudes, beliefs, and priorities of every healthcare professional, from doctors to nurses to support staff.

Our healthcare administrators, policymakers, and government should not only listen to this dire cry of the nation but also act swiftly to ensure that our people have access to reliable health facilities. The health and well-being of healthcare workers are intrinsically linked to the health and well-being of the entire nation.

Our commitment to patient safety and the well-being of healthcare workers should not be a matter of choice but an ethical imperative.