Since 2011, many medical residents have been benefiting from fewer hours at work, as concerns about fatigued medical residents making medical errors, rose. However, an analysis of the data since then seems to indicate the fewer hours for doctors in training hasn’t necessarily enhanced patient safety, or reduced the number of medical errors.
In 2003, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education ruled trainee doctors could work for a maximum of 24 consecutive hours. In 2011, the rules cut down those hours even further.
However, new data been published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal finds doctors, who are now working fewer hours, are not necessarily reporting fewer mistakes. In fact, these interns are reporting higher number of mistakes, and even more surprisingly, are reporting they're not getting enough sleep. Many interns are also reporting symptoms of depression.
The researchers have been analyzing why the reduced hours have not contributed to a drop in medical errors, and the explanation seems fairly simple to California medical malpractice lawyers. In many hospitals, the drop in work hours for resident doctors has not been accompanied by an increase in other staff members to balance the workload. This means doctors have reduced work hours in theory only, and are still required to complete all of their duties in the reduced number of hours.
That has led to work compression, in which doctors are required to complete more duties in fewer numbers of hours, leading to symptoms of fatigue and stress. These doctors are at risk for symptoms of burnout and depression.
Another theory is the number of handoffs has increased, as doctors going off duty hand over care of their patients to another doctor. This is a critical moment in the health care system and many medical errors occur during this handoff period.
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