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May 2014 Archives

Hospital Shifts and Medical Mistakes

Without a doubt, the best way of dealing with hospital errors is to prevent them from happening in the first place. In a recent on-line Globe and Mail article, Attempt to shorten shifts for doctors causing unintended consequences, correspondent Lee Marshall identified a new potential source of medical errors. According to Ms. Marshall, this new problem grew out of the well-intended need to shorten the ridiculously long shifts that many hospital workers, principally medical residents, traditionally have had to tolerate. In a recent survey of their members conducted by The Canadian Association of Internes and Residents, it was reported that their members worked an average of 62.6 hours per week, and slept an average of 3.2 hours per day while on call. The worst case seems to be in the specialty in which one might expect a need for the greatest acuity, surgical residents, who reported working slightly more than 75 hours per week and an average of 20.2 consecutive in-house duty hours.

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