Lack of sleep can cause medical malpractice nightmares

Posted on behalf of Stewart Bell, PLLC on Nov 09, 2012 in Doctor Errors

Everyone needs sleep. Kindergarteners and cops need it, as do attorneys, mechanics, teachers, electricians and everyone else in West Virginia you can think of, including doctors.

A sleep specialist recently wrote an interesting column on the very real dangers of sleepless doctors committing medical errors .

He writes that in our culture, people are often to deprive themselves of sleep in order to achieve success in their chosen field. He noted that this attitude is particularly deeply ingrained among doctors: "In the physician culture, we don't just deny our doctors actual sleep, we expect them to learn how to deny themselves the need to sleep. We expect them to be impervious to fatigue, to remain somehow immune to the effects of sleep deprivation."

Yet he also notes that the dangers of sleep deprivation are serious ones, including:

Surgical mistakes: research shows that these errors become more frequent when surgeons have less than six hours following an evening operation and before a morning procedure.

Extended shifts: a study shows that interns who work five or more extended shifts in a month commit "300 percent more preventable errors associated with fatigue that resulted in fatalities."

Sleepless residents: another study shows that sleep-deprived residents (young doctors doing on-the-job training) are "22 percent more likely to commit medical errors."

Residents are especially prone to depriving themselves of sleep in order to meet and exceed demands made of them by supervising physicians. The problem is, of course, that these sleep-deprived doctors are trying to practice medicine, heal people and save lives when they might be, in fact, putting people in danger.

When sleep deprivation leads to a medical error that harms a patient, an experienced attorney can help the victim carefully examine their legal options and effectively pursue full compensation for often life-changing damages.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Doctors Are Human; They Need Sleep," Dr. Michael J. Breus, Nov. 5, 2012

  • When doctors' errors result in injury, a law firm experienced in medical law can help victims receive compensation for damages. For more information, please visit our West Virginia medical malpractice page.

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