Patients At Risk After New Shift Rule
Getting a good night’s sleep is incredibly important, particularly for healthcare professionals who are charged with looking after sick patients. Unfortunately, a new rule from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education who oversees work standards for medical school graduates will put patients at risk by allowing first year medical residents to work up to 24 consecutive hours in one shift. Previously, these doctors were only allowed to work up to 16 hours at a time, but an additional eight hours could have devastating consequences for patients.
The new rule is trying to take aim at shift changes. During a shift change, important medical information is relayed to the new staff, but this also allows for errors and interruptions in care that could cause serious medical mistakes. While too many shift changes can present opportunities for mistakes, decreasing the number of shift changes by increasing shift lengths is not the answer.
The new rule, which also allows first-year residents to work more than 24 hours if they so choose, is trying to encourage doctors to break the shift work mentality of healthcare, but at a serious cost.
First year medical residents are more likely to make medical mistakes than their more seasoned counterparts because they lack experience. However, this risk is compounded when residents work long hours. According to a study conducted by Harvard University, residents made approximately 36% more serious medical mistakes when working 24 hours or more.
The effects of sleep deprivation are well known today. Truck drivers must abide by federal working hour regulations to prevent them from working too many consecutive hours, and millions of people fall asleep behind the wheel of motor vehicles each year. Studies have shown a single sleepless night can cause impairment similar to a blood alcohol level of 0.1, which is over the legal limit for drinking and driving.
With such a vast body of evidence linking the dangers of long shift work to medical mistakes and decreased performance, it might be puzzling to patients why this new rule was enacted. As a patient, you have a right to a certain standard of care, regardless of how many hours your physician has worked. You should always seek a second opinion and speak up if you feel something isn’t right.
Lawyers For Medical Mistakes In Philadelphia Hospitals
If you or someone you know has been a victim of a medical mistake in a Philadelphia hospital, contact the experienced Pennsylvania lawyers for medical mistakes at Lopez McHugh LLP as soon as possible for a free and confidential consultation.