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Cyberattacks, nurses, and mental health: 3 things to know

On Behalf of | Jun 6, 2024 | Nurse Licensing |

Nurses play a critical role in patient care and are often referred to as the backbone of healthcare. However, their demanding work can take a toll on their mental health. Recent data shows that nurse burnout is on the rise, with significantly more nurses reporting burnout in 2022 compared to 2018.

The pandemic exacerbated burnout, as nurses faced unprecedented challenges: overwork, lack of breaks, and dealing with grief-stricken patients and families. Now, we seem to be facing a new challenge to nurse’s mental health: cyberattacks.

#1: Mental health and burnout can impact a nurse’s ability to care for patients

Burnout leads to disengagement with patients, affecting the quality of care provided. Not surprisingly, overworked nurses are more prone to mistakes. This can jeopardize patient safety.

#2: Cyberattacks can contribute to a nurse’s mental well-being

Cyberattacks can disrupt essential services like patient care, billing, and communication. Nurses are on the front lines, dealing with the chaos caused by system failures. The stress of managing patient care without reliable systems can lead to anxiety, sleep disturbances, and emotional strain. Nurses may worry about patient safety, delayed treatments, and compromised data security.

During system downtime, nurses resort to manual record-keeping, paperwork, and phone calls. This significantly increases their workload, leading to exhaustion and further contributing to burnout. Nurses work extra hours to catch up on missed tasks, affecting work-life balance and exacerbating stress.

Even after this issue is resolved, the constant threat of cyberattacks will likely create emotional strain. Nurses may feel helpless, anxious, or even traumatized by the situation.

#3: Burnout can impact a nurse’s professional licensure

Nurses are healthcare heroes, but they are not invincible. When a nurse’s performance declines due to burnout, it may lead to patient complaints or concerns raised by colleagues. These complaints can trigger an investigation by the state licensing board. The state board may investigate allegations of professional misconduct, negligence, or incompetence. They review evidence, interview witnesses, and assess whether the nurse’s actions violated any regulations or standards.

If the investigation finds evidence of serious misconduct or repeated errors due to burnout, the nurse’s license may be at risk. Depending on the severity, the board may issue warnings, place the nurse on probation, or even revoke the license.

Attorney John Rivas is responsible for this communication.

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