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Medical errors increase for interns working less hours

Becoming a doctor requires a great deal of dedication and sacrifice. It means sleeplessness, long hours of study, horrific exams, and a willingness to miss out on other activities in order to care for others. Sometimes these can take a toll on doctors in New York City and create a problem where medical errors are being made, putting patients at risk. While the medical industry has tried a number of different things to lower the number of doctor errors, it seems that perhaps they may be looking in the wrong places.

Instead of cutting hours, the medical industry may want to consider cutting down the amount of work that interns perform and bolstering their staff numbers. When doctors have too many patients to care for, it can be easier for them to make a wrong diagnosis or commit a hospital error that can harm that patient, resulting in an unnecessary death.

A new survey seems to support that argument, showing that lowering the number of hours that interns work has the opposite effect. Instead of lowering the number of mistakes that these medical professionals are making, preliminary results show an increase. For years, it has been thought that many instances of incorrect treatment have been due to tiredness from long hours and so the number of hours an intern works within a single shift have been gradually lowered.

With so many people that are injured through a hospital error each year, medical facilities should be looking at the overall picture instead of thinking that just one aspect is the source of the problem. By examining the many challenges that face doctors and hospital staff today, the medical industry may just find the right solutions.

Source: TIME, "Fewer Hours for Doctors in Training Leading to More Mistakes," Alexandra Sifferlin, March 26, 2013

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