June 12, 2007

Sleepy Doctor Equals Bad Doctor

Filed under: Health Tips,Views — Sharon Moalem @ 9:46 am

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Have you ever tried doing crossword puzzles while you’re really tired? In one word frustrating, at least you can come back to it later after some much needed sleep. But medicine and crosswords are not the same. Studies have already shown that if you sleep deprive medical residents they perform poorly in areas such as concentration and judgment, just the skills you need to take care of someone who is critically ill. To address this problem in 2003, work for residents was supposed to be limited to 80 hours a week and 24 hours at a stretch. But even with these work hour requirements in place, many residents are still sleep deprived. Why do we spend billions of dollars on health care and drug discovery, to only then have sleepy physicians make simple and sometimes deadly mistakes in health care delivery? I just don’t get it. Until of course you figure that the work that medical residents do at sub par pay subsidizes the system.

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