Patient advocacy groups have formed a coalition to launch a new website designed to highlight the relationship between medical errors and physician fatigue. www.WakeUpdoctor.org is the site that will gather information and the stories of patients who’ve been harmed by medical error associated with physician fatigue and overwork. The effort will concentrate on reducing the number of hours worked by interns and residents in order to improve patient safety and reduce medical errors.
“Few, if any, people would fly on a plane whose pilot had been awake and working for 25 to 30 hours. In fact, that long a shift is prohibited,” said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. “But patients routinely get medical care from resident physicians who have been working that long. They become fatigued, making them more susceptible to making errors that greatly harm patients. It is likely that there are more deaths in U.S. hospitals each year caused by sleep-deprived doctors than the total annual deaths from plane crashes and train accidents.”
Since the link between medical errors and physician sleep deprivation has grown over the years, the new effort is a common sense approach to reducing errors and improving patient safety. This is a step in the right direction.
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