Things To Consider On Your Next Hospital Visit: Shift Lengths For Doctors

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

Hospital errors cause over 98,000 deaths in the United States and sleep-deprived doctors on shorter, not longer shifts, can take some of that blame. Our firm has been handling medical malpractice cases and trials for decades, and we feel this information is important to share. Is it not hard to swallow that, despite our medical and technological innovations, or lack thereof, we have to worry if our doctor got enough sleep? Besides considering a lawsuit, there are three things you should keep in mind when in the hospital, thanks to a disturbing ABC World News report by Dr. Richard Besser.

1. Medical errors increased when doctors were on shorter shifts with less sleep. Doctors that were on 24-hour shifts had a 20% chance of making a mistake where according to this new study, chances of a mistake rose to 23% when doctors were on a 16-hour shift.

2. It doesn’t make sense, does it? Consider this: shorter shifts and a lack of shut-eye equals doctors handing off your medical information to the next doctor, or the next medical team in charge of your care more frequently, almost three times as much! Within a 3-day period, what would have been 3 handoffs of your information during 24-hour shifts became 9 during 16-hour shifts.

3. Having someone you trust, perhaps a family member or a friend, to make sure your medical information is passed around correctly without error can save you from a world of hurt and trouble. This can be a simple way of protecting yourself from the hands of a sleepy and exhausted doctor.

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