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Doctor fatigue is a threat to patient safety

| Sep 1, 2018 | Surgical Errors

When people need medical attention in New York, often their first inclination is to contact their physician to get assistance and recommendations for medical treatment. However, doctors fail to pay attention to patient needs, lack proper communication skills or are reckless or careless, they may put any patient they treat at risk of injury or even death in serious cases. Interestingly, another risk factor for doctor error is often overlooked. This silent killer is fatigue. Doctors who work long hours are often left with little time to rest, refuel and have a mental break. 

According to The Washington Post, researchers have evidence to prove that medical malpractice errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States despite efforts to regulate doctor behavior. Could the problem be something more serious? Something more common perhaps? While much of the focus has been on bettering communication and strengthening patient safety protocols, little has been done to remedy the problem of physician fatigue. 

CBS News questioned the effectiveness of reducing the shift time of doctors in an effort to keep their bodies and minds well-rested and ready to treat their patients’ individual needs. Research showed that doctors who worked shorter shifts were less tired and more capable of performing their duties without putting their patients at risk. Opponents of reducing shift time expressed concerned that with doctors working shorter times, there would be a much larger necessity for flawless transferal of communication and information between shifts. The handover of information would most likely exceed what it normally would considering that doctors are there less of the time.  

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