Doctors spend many years both studying and training before being allowed to oversee the healthcare of patients. While this preparation readies them for many aspects of patient care, it cannot prepare them for everything.
It is no secret that those in the medical profession work hard and are often on duty for extended periods of time. Most of the time, physicians are able to cope with these pressures and provide high standards of care. Nonetheless, some physicians succumb to fatigue, which places patients at risk.
How dangerous is physician fatigue?
Most occupations involve a certain level of fatigue. The key difference is that the majority of occupations do not involve potentially life-altering decisions for vulnerable people. The cognitive function of fatigued doctors will significantly deteriorate, which impacts their ability to make decisions that are in the best interests of patients. Research also suggests that tired physicians will suffer from memory loss and a reduction in interpersonal skills.
What does this mean in practical terms?
The symptoms associated with fatigue mean that doctors will make decisions they would not have made in a properly rested condition. They may be negligent in terms of the care offered to you. This could mean that a surgeon makes a critical mistake during a procedure. Additionally, the judgment required to make an accurate diagnosis might be impaired, resulting in you missing out on the treatment that you need to get better. One study carried out by CBS News confirmed that fatigued doctors are prone to making a host of errors that can be fatal to patients.
As a patient, doctors owe you a duty of care. If your medical team has let you down, you may be able to pursue a claim for the harm suffered as a result of negligence.