Compassion Fatigue

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The concept of compassion fatigue was introduced in 1992, by Carla Johnson RN, while researching burnout in emergency department nurses, she found out that some of the nurses had lost their “ability to nurture”. Since then, various authors and many other professional groups outside nursing, such as physicians, social workers, government organization and police, and firefighters have adopted the concepts of combating compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue is a progression of physical and emotional exhaustion. Maslach and Jackson, use the term “occupational burnout”, they describe it as a syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment that can occur among individuals who do people work of some kind (Meslach C, Jackson S. 1986). Professional fatigue among healthcare providers begin with physical and emotional fatigue, and over the time with demanding professional circumstances it can, evolves in a more debilitating and a chronic condition. It is “a natural consequent behaviors and emotions resulting from knowing about a traumatizing event experienced by a significant other….the stress resulting from helping, or wanting to help, a traumatized or suffering person” (Figley, 1995). Most health care workers join the field with the genuine intent to help, bring relief and provide empathic care. This can be professionally and meaningful rewarding, but this line of work can also leave the provider drained and frustrated due to challenging needs of the patient, their family and management issues. This is especially evident during high acuity times when work load is increased and there is luck of equipment and manpower. If there is a progression and cumulative process, the provider’s ability to care is interrupted and the quality of patient’s care will also suffer, due to the health care’s inability to concentrate, poor judgment which may lead to serious errors in the delivery of patient’s care....
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