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Are shorter hospital shifts safer shifts? Part 2

The previous post began a discussion about how the change in shift durations has impacted patient safety. Though the goal behind requiring medical residents to work shorter shifts was to reduce incidents of hospital errors, research suggests that no such improvement has taken place.

According to a study published in JAMA, the shorter shifts may actually have a negative impact on the likelihood of medical mishaps. As the past post covers, training happens more slowly and more handoffs occur because of shortened shifts. There are other potential downfalls of the change:

Less work hasn't meant more sleep

Though the residents are working fewer consecutive hours, the study into their sleeping habits doesn't indicate that they are sleeping while off the clock. You can require trainees to work fewer hours, but can you require them to sleep once they are off-duty?

Fewer hours hasn't mean less work

Work expectations haven't changed in order to keep up with the change in shift regulations. That means that what interns used to have to accomplish during a longer shift they are now required to complete in a shorter span of time. That sort of situation makes for stress, anxiety and a pressure to hurry up. All in all, it makes for a high likelihood of hospital error.

Proper training is a must for any profession. The training of medical professionals is no different. It isn't an injured patient's problem if they are hurt because of a lack of sufficient training for medical residents. When a victim of medical malpractice needs help, our Harrisburg hospital negligence attorneys can guide them through the stressful time.

Source: Time, "Fewer Hours for Doctors in Training Leading to More Mistakes," Alexandra Sifferlin, March 26, 2013

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