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Doctor fatigue can render medical care dangerous

| Dec 4, 2020 | Medical Malpractice

Patients expect that the doctors and nurses who treat them are capable of performing their duties in a competent and safe fashion. While this occurs in many instances, there are a lot of circumstances where errors occur, causing devastating harm to unsuspecting patients. The reasons for these errors are almost always surprising, and they’re never acceptable. And some of them may be more common than you’d expect.

The effects of fatigue

Sleep is a critical component of a healthy lifestyle, but the effects of sleep deprivation can have a profound impact on patient safety. Many experts indicate that 7.5 to 8.5 hours of sleep per night is ideal for most individuals, but five hours is the absolute minimum. Those who experience sleep deprivation can suffer in cognitive performance. Given this fact, fatigue has been identified as a hazard in the medical field that can increase medical mistakes that are harmful to patients.

Declined cognitive performance can take many forms. Decision-making capabilities can be impaired and so, too, can situational awareness. Both of these characteristics can be devastating in the healthcare field where doctors and nurses need to be able to adapt to quickly changing conditions, perform risk assessments on the fly, give weight to the risks involved with a certain action, and shift care in accordance with changed circumstances. One slip up in any of these areas can lead to a surgical error, medication mistake, or a misdiagnosis.

Holding negligent professionals accountable

Fatigue is just one of the many factors contributing to preventable medical malpractice. Regardless of why a medical professional makes a mistake, he or she needs to be held accountable for harm caused. Oftentimes the only way to do this is to take legal action. Proving a medical malpractice case may not be as easy as it seems, though, which is why those who have been injured by a doctor error or hospital negligence should consider whether they can better pursue the compensation they deserve with the assistance of an experienced attorney.

 

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