Issues related to worker fatigue are seen across many industries. However, those in the healthcare field regularly work long hours and double shifts and neglect a basic human need – sleep.
Unfortunately, without proper rest, the body doesn’t have time to recover, which leads to poor decision making, the failure of high-level cognitive functions and slowed response times. This can lead to devastating mistakes, serious injuries, and medical malpractice claims for doctors.
The regulation of hospital shifts
In the U.S., the average shift for a worker usually involves more than 40 hours per week. Over 15 million workers work at night, full-time or have irregular shifts. While OSHA regulates work hours, hospital employers are expected, in many cases, to exceed these average weekly rates.
The issue of fatigue for doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals
Doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers can make catastrophic errors because of sleep deprivation. This is because sleep plays a huge role in how your brain works. The less sleep you get, the harder it is to make mission-critical decisions, maintain the ability to engage in complex motor functions, stay balanced and regulate your emotions to make logical decisions.
Fatigue and medical malpractice
A fatigued healthcare professional can make serious and life-changing mistakes. The victim in these situations is the patient who may be misdiagnosed, have the wrong amount or type of medication ordered or even have delayed treatment. Surgeons may even make fatal errors that result in their patient’s death.
Your rights as a medical malpractice victim
If you are the victim of an injury or if a loved one died because of a fatigued medical professional, you have rights. One right is to file a medical malpractice claim to recover damages from the responsible party.