Lack of Doctor Sleep to Blame for Many Cases of Surgical Error

The American Automobile Association (AAA) and their Foundation for Traffic Safety have long warned of the risks associated with a driver’s lack of sleep on his or her ability drive safely. In fact, the effects that a lack of sleep has been shown to have on drivers is not all that different from intoxicated driving.

Statistics released by AAA have shown that drivers who get less than six hours of sleep within the course of a single day are two times more likely to be involved in a car crash than anyone else.

AAA’s Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research warns that no driver should be getting behind the wheel if he or she has had less than seven hours of sleep within a 24-hour period. If this is the case, it leaves many to wonder if doctors should be performing complex surgeries, especially in the face of significant impaired judgment.

There are plenty of horror stories of doctor’s lapses in judgments that have gained publicity in the media. There’s a case in which a surgeon collapsed from exhaustion while standing over a patient in the operating room. He unintentionally cut his patient as a result. Then there are those cases in which doctors failed to properly diagnose a patient because they were so tired it impaired their ability to do so.

Increased awareness of the downsides of a lack of medical resident and physician sleep is a particularly timely topic. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the governing agency that determines what rules medical trainees should be forced to adhere to, has recently proposed an increase in the amount of consecutive hours that young residents should be allowed to work from 16 to 28.

The Institute of Medicine argues that this would greatly diminish a doctor’s ability to protect patient safety.

In an effort to turn a profit, many hospitals are forcing the doctors that work for them to push well beyond their boundaries, especially when it comes to their degree of alertness. This is when doctor errors are most apt to occur. If your loved one has either been permanently injured or lost his or her life as a result of a doctor’s negligence, a Bowling Green, Kentucky, medical malpractice attorney may be able to help in your legal matter.

Source: The Atlantic, “No doctor should work 30 straight hours without sleep,” James Hamblin, accessed June 09, 2017

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