Posted on Monday, March 6th, 2017 at 4:13 am    

Becoming a doctor requires many years of school and training. During school, many students learn to live on a few hours of sleep as the study for mid-terms and final exams. When these young doctors graduate from medical school, they are expected to work long, grueling hours as residents to learn more about the practice of medicine. However, is a doctor’s work hours a danger for patients?

How Long Do Residents Work?

At this time, a resident can work up to 16 hours in a row.  However, if new rules are passed, the time a resident can be required to work without time off will drastically increase. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the body that oversees residents, has proposed new rules regarding work hours for residents.

Under the new rules, a medical resident can work shifts consisting of 28 hours without eight hours off between shifts. The new rules also permit a resident to work more than six night shifts in a row. In addition, a resident will not be required to report being required to work a shaft in excess of 28 hours if the choice to work those hours rests with the resident. If passed, these new rules could increase the risk of medical malpractice.

The Risks Associated with Long Hours

Drowsy doctors are a danger to themselves and their patients. Studies have concluded that serious medical errors increase with long work hours. An article in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that interns on a traditional residency schedule have a 22 percent higher rate of serious errors.

In addition to increasing the risk of medical errors, long work hours are dangerous for the residents.  Residents who are tired are more prone to needle-stick injuries and car accidents. Also, residents who are sleep deprived are at a higher risk for suicide attempts.

Drowsy Drivers and Medical Malpractice

Patients should be able to rely on their doctors to provide the best medical care possible, especially in an emergency.  When hospitals and other medical facilities require their residents and staff to work long hours, the standard of care provided to patients can suffer. When doctors are tired, mistakes can happen, and those mistakes can result in permanent, life-altering conditions and disabilities. Some mistakes result in wrongful deaths. Someone other than the innocent victim should be required to pay for the damages caused by medical malpractice.

Unfortunately, a monetary judgment cannot undo the damage caused by medical malpractice, but it can help provide much needed medical and personal care. A monetary judgment can also provide much-needed funds for a victim who is unable to work due to the damage caused by the malpractice.

Lastly, a medical malpractice lawsuit forces the medical community to recognize why mistakes occur. In some cases, new safety measures or standards can be put in place that prevents another patient from being harmed in the same manner.

Call a Sacramento Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you suspect you are the victim of medical malpractice, you must act quickly to protect your right to recover compensation for your damages. Call the Tiemann Law Firm at (916) 999-9000 or contact our office online to request a free consultation with a medical malpractice lawyer.  Our attorneys serve clients in SacramentoFolsomRoseville, El Dorado Hills and other communities in the greater Sacramento area.

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