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Medical Mistakes Persist Despite Shorter Shifts for Doctors, Report Two Studies

Posted by Sarah Showard | Apr 19, 2013 | 0 Comments

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Despite recent limits that have shortened the length of doctors' shifts, medical mistakes have reported increased, according to two recent studies.

While the medical industry is notorious for having staff that work excessively long hours, within the past few years, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has taken action to set maximum standards on shifts, limiting young doctors to working, at most, 16-hour shifts. Although such standards would seem to improve safety and reduce the number of medical mistakes made in hospitals, studies recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine have indicated otherwise.

In a study overseen at the Johns Hopkins University, researchers found that shorter shifts for young doctors:

• Did not result in these doctors getting more rest (which was the intention behind imposing the shift limits)
• In fact, decreased the amount of time that new doctors were trained
• Increased the handing off of patients to other young doctors, which, in turn, caused the number of medical mistakes to also increase

In another study conducted at the University of Michigan, researchers compared the number of medical mistakes made by young doctors before and after 2011 (the year in which the maximum 16-hour shift went into effect) at hospitals nationwide. Similar to the study at Johns Hopkins, researchers found that the number of mistakes young doctors made when they had shorter shifts actually increased by 3.4 percent.

While most of the errors made reportedly involved medication-related errors, approximately 1 in 5 reported medical mistakes involved a wrong diagnosis and/or improper treatment, and about 10 percent of the reported medical mistakes involved surgical errors. Researchers in this study cited the correlation between the increase in medical mistakes and the shorter shifts to the fact that many young doctors still had the mentality that they had to complete the same amount of work as they had been during the longer shifts.

If you believe that you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of a doctor or nurse, contact the experienced Tucson medical malpractice lawyers at the Showard Law Firm. For more than 20 years, we have been standing up for patients' rights and helping them win the compensation they deserve. For a free evaluation of your case and professional advice regarding the best manner in which to move forward, call us at (866) 307-2147.

About the Author

Sarah Showard

Sarah Showard graduated from the University of Maryland in 1985, Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English-Linguistics and a Certification in Women's Studies. She then graduated from New York University School of Law in 1988. Sarah began practice initially as an insurance defense attorney, and has been representing plaintiffs since 1990. Sarah has a son, Benjamin, who recently graduated from The Gregory School and will attend ASU in the fall, with future plans to attend law school and eventually join Showard Law Firm. In her spare time Sarah enjoys horseback riding and spending time in Sonoita with her husband Peter.

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