Patients May Be Put at Risk by Sleep-Deprived Doctors

sleep-deprived-doctors-cause-harmIt is common sense that people need adequate sleep to function, let alone examine patients, perform medical procedures, and prescribe medications. But did you know that many medical professionals are sleep deprived? Shockingly, many doctors and other medical professionals haven’t gotten enough sleep in order to perform their jobs accurately and safely.

What’s even more troubling is that a new law may make things worse. Currently, first-year resident physicians are allowed to work 16 consecutive hours without sleep, but as of July 1, 2017, first-year medical residents will be allowed to work 28 hours or longer shifts without sleep, per the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

Sleep-Deprivation Could Lead to More Medical Errors

According to research, working long hours without sleep may increase one’s risk for making errors and may jeopardize patient safety. In fact, the 16-hour work limit that was set for first-year residents was put in place following a 2009 report from the Institute of Medicine that found that first-year medical residents “make more errors when working longer consecutive hours.”

Unfortunately, the elimination of the 16-hour cap for first-year residents is a huge concern for patient safety. Now all residents at any level can work 28 consecutive hours or more during residency training.

It is scary to think about the possible errors that could happen if residents don’t get the proper amount of sleep. For instance, a sleep-deprived resident could interpret test results incorrectly, give the wrong medication orders to the nurse, discharge a patient too early, and even make critical mistakes when assisting with a surgery.

Why Sleep Is Critical to Everyone’s Health

The truth is that all humans need adequate sleep in order to think clearly, make sound decisions, use the best judgment, and rely on learned skills. According to the National Sleep Foundation, healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 64 should get seven to nine hours of sleep every day. Unfortunately, those in the medical field may not be getting the sleep they need to keep their patients safe.

Please share this blog on your favorite social media site, as you never know when someone may be harmed by a medical professional. As you see here, the cause of the mistake could be sleep deprivation and medical negligence, and victims need to learn about their rights.

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