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Sleep-deprived doctors make mistakes

On Behalf of | Jan 19, 2021 | Blog, Doctor Errors

A cross-sectional study of 11,395 physicians conducted by the Physician Wellness Academic Consortium across 11 medical centers found that sleep-deprived doctors in New Jersey and other states were more likely to make mistakes. The survey, which asked doctors and residents to self-report, found that the most sleep-deprived individuals also have the least experience to draw on. The study found that those in surgery specialties reported getting more sleep and made the fewest mistakes while those in emergency medicine were the most sleep-deprived and reported making the most errors.

Sleep deprivation is a massive problem for doctors

The study found that doctors and trainees were more sleep-deprived than the average public. Among doctors, the research shows that trainees in surgical specialties were the most sleep-deprived. Almost 50% admitted that they had made at least one clinical mistake resulting in harm to a patient while they were running on too little sleep. The study also found that doctors who did not get enough rest were more likely to select risky treatment options than those who were well-rested.

What happens when doctors do not get enough sleep?

Other studies have shown that many different things happen when doctors do not get enough sleep. If you suspect that a sleep-deprived doctor may have made a mistake in your case, a medical malpractice attorney may help. Common mistakes made by sleep-deprived doctors are caused by:

  • Lack of functional cognition
  • Problems with concentration
  • Poor visual and working memory
  • Inability to discern arrhythmias on electrocardiograms
  • Reduced operative dexterity
  • Impaired decision-making skills
  • Reduced ability to feel empathetic

Doctors experience difficulties

The study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association also found that sleep-deprived doctors often reported feeling unfulfilled in their careers. In addition, they were more likely to feel burned out and reported having trouble maintaining close relationships with others.

If you feel that a sleep-deprived medical professional harmed you, a lawyer may be able to help. Even if you do not know if the doctor got enough sleep, reach out because a lawyer may be able to determine if sleep-deprivation played a role.

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