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Doctor fatigue can lead to medical errors

| Jan 19, 2021 | Medical Malpractice

Whenever a medical relationship between a doctor and patient exists, there is a certain standard of care the patient can expect. Medical malpractice in North Carolina happens when a physician or other medical professional injures a patient while failing to live up to this standard of care. There are many reasons possible to explain inadequate levels of care. But recent studies show that a lack of sleep for doctors can become a greater risk than many others.

The statistics

One published study showed that incidents of medical malpractice skyrocket when doctors experience moderate sleep deprivation. The research took place between November 2016 and October 2018. More than 11,000 physicians working at academic medical centers across the country answered survey questions regarding sleep habits. The study also presented 7,762 physicians with questions regarding the self-reporting of medical errors.

The study found that residents experienced sleep deprivation more often than physicians. And surgical residents experienced more sleep deprivation than residents participating in the other specialties observed in the study. Emergency medicine specialists reported more problems with sleep than other attending physicians.

Researchers adjusted the survey answers for factors like practice specialty and training status. The finding was that moderate sleep deprivation increased the likelihood of a critical self-reported medical error by 53 percent. This risk increased to 97 percent for the physicians who experienced the highest levels of sleep deprivation.

The authors of the study reported sleep deprivation as a root cause of physician burnout. Physicians who do not enjoy adequate rest also report less satisfaction with their career choice. Study authors suggest hospitals and medical institutions enact measures that will decrease the effects of physician sleep impairment.

Patients should enjoy the confidence of knowing the medical advice and treatment they receive from a physician is safe. Individuals injured by the poor performance of a medical professional might benefit from the attention of an attorney.