Shorter Shifts = More Medical Errors

March 29, 2013 | Crandall & Pera Law
Shorter Shifts = More Medical Errors

Hospital efforts to cut back long hours for medical residents in order to improve patient safety has proven to have the opposite effect, according to two new studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Since a medical oversight board decreased the length of time a young doctor can work without taking a break from 30 hours to 16 in 2011, medical errors harming patients increased 15% to 20% among residents compared with residents who worked longer shifts. This may be largely due to the number of "handoff risks" when a patient's care changes hands.

Both reports found residents with shorter hours failed to increase the amount of sleep they get overall per week. Among a sample of 2,323 interns at more than 40 teaching hospitals, 20% of the residents also screened positive for depression.

"Teaching hospitals haven't invested in providing extra help to shoulder any of the clinical work that has to be done," says Elizabeth Wiley, president of the American Medical Student Association. "It could be the interns are required to do the same amount of work in less time." Read the full story here:

Studies: Residents make more errors on shorter shifts

Decreasing the hours a resident-physician in training can work consecutively has proven to have opposite effects; more medical errors and medical malpractice occur on their shift. It may be that the hours worked are not the issue, but rather the amount of patients and staffing at U.S. hospitals.

If you or a family member believe you have a medical malpractice case, contact Crandall & Pera Law today for a free case evaluation. Crandall & Pera Law is available to help answer your questions and guide you in determining your next steps.