© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2020

Overtired nurse almost microwaved a piece of paper

Emma Olsen
Middlemore Hospital
Middlemore Hospital  Sydney - Instagram

An overtired Auckland nurse almost microwaved a piece of paper that she was meant to photocopy.

A nurse at Middlemore Hospital has found herself in an unusual situation after being so overtired that she put a piece of paper in the microwave.

The nurse was walking to the photocopier to copy a document when one of the staff distracted her, saying something about coffee. The next thing she knew, she was opening the microwave door and holding a piece of paper in front of it, wondering what on earth was she doing.

"I had been under a lot of pressure with all the changes needed when the country went into lockdown. The work and planning behind the scenes have been huge and although I was too busy to recognise it, my brain was obviously overwhelmed."

She acknowledges that although the situation is funny, it is also dangerous when working with people's lives.

"Too often there are human errors when dealing with medication. This event made me realise that I needed to take my breaks and try to switch off when I go home. When under lots of pressure you take it home with you and lie awake thinking about it. This is when you know that you need to look after yourself. Go for a walk and try not to drink too much wine."

This nurse, who asked not to be named, has been working 10-hour days and said the overall mood at her workplace is filled with anxiety, uneasiness, and panic because they feel like they can't keep up.

"What we are all facing is new, the way we did things have changed and that means there is no option but to work hard in order to learn the new procedures."

She thinks the Government has done an awesome job of supporting them and doesn't think it's the problem.

"It's the speed at which everything has happened but the lockdown means we can defer a lot of treatments and release staff to learn the new things they need to know, in order to be prepared."

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation said understaffing and overwork have been problems in nursing for decades.

"Even though nurses are dedicated professionals, mistakes are always more likely when they have been working long hours. This leads to fatigue and haste, and this is particularly an issue right now when many nurses are having to go into isolation because they may have been exposed to COVID-19. NZNO has been working continually to negotiate better working conditions for nurses so they feel comfortable at work," said an NZNO spokesperson.