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Is the medical industry promoting drowsy doctors?

On Behalf of | Aug 22, 2018 | Firm News

Medical school and rotations proved exhausting. Yet when you enter your career, you find that working excessive hours does not stop. You doze off and begin sneaking naps in break rooms. You are passionate about your career and do not want to seem weak, but you worry that your drowsiness will hurt with your performance as a life-saving medical professional.

Though some laws protect against excessive working in medical hospitals in New Jersey, you may wish to take personal steps to ensuring that you are awake enough to make accurate considerations about your patient. Avoiding a medical malpractice lawsuit is essential for the safety of both your patients and your career.

Sleep requirements and hospital duties

According to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), employees must not exceed 80 hours of work per week. Ten hours of rest is required between shifts, and you may legally work for exactly 24 hours.

The Sleep Foundation reports that adults require 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Put simply, if you work in the hospital every day of the week for nearly 12 hours, you cannot possibly get the recommended number of sleep hours per night.

Even during hours that you are not scheduled, you may be on-call in case of emergency. Especially for specialized surgeons, on-call shifts disrupt sleep significantly, even if the hospital never calls.

If medical professionals do not receive adequate sleep per week, they may experience:

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Slower motor skills
  • Inability to keep eyes open
  • Loss of hearing
  • Confusion or misinterpretation
  • Loss of thorough analysis of a medical situation
  • Missteps or oversights to finish an operation quickly

These symptoms may lead to medical malpractice lawsuits, even though these professionals simply follow direct orders of their managers. You may not feel tired, or you do not want to seem drowsy as to continue your shift helping patients, but your actions may prove detrimental to your patients’ health.

Protecting yourself from a lawsuit

Because sleep deprivation affects both physical and cognitive health, it is essential you get enough sleep to accurately perform your duties. It is important that you:

  1. Never work more than the standardized hours set by the ACGME
  2. Try to sleep at least 7 hours per night
  3. Drink water and caffeine if needed
  4. Explain to a colleague if you experience drowsiness
  5. Take a 30-minute nap to regain strength

It is essential to use caution when completing medical practices while drowsy. If you find yourself involved in a medical malpractice lawsuit due to your busy schedule and drowsiness, contact an experience attorney to protect you and find accurate ways to represent you in court.