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Sleepy Docs a liability for Hospitals

                          According to a study, medical interns who worked in shifts lasting 24 hours or more were twice as likely to be involved in serious crashes after work than doctors who put in fewer hours. Hospitals, which routinely schedule interns to work double, triple or quadruple shifts, may soon find themselves sued for motor vehicle accidents caused by exhausted staff, one of the researchers said. The medical profession should be a leader in accident prevention, yet it's requiring its medical trainees to work on marathon shifts and lets them drive home in this impaired condition in which they're unfit to drive," said Charles Czeisler, a Sleep Expert. "That's akin to letting someone get behind the wheel when you know he's drunk." The European Union has imposed a 13-hour limit on daily shifts for physicians, with some exceptions. The study by Czeisler and his colleagues was based on a Web-based survey in which nearly 2,800 interns provided monthly reports of their work hours and documented road crashes or near-miss incidents in which they were involved. The researchers concluded that a substantial number of accidents could be prevented, if hospitals implement less rigorous work schedules for interns. The new findings came two months after the Czeisler team found that sleep-deprived interns make 5.6 times more serious mistakes in the hospital than their rested colleagues. People forced to stay awake for 19 to 21 hours are as impaired as people with blood alcohol concentrations of 0.05 to 0.08. The interns, in the latest study, averaged 32 hours per shift four times a month. In some training programs, the doctors had shifts lasting 48 to 84 hours.




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