Certainly, you wouldn’t put your mother in the care of an impaired hospitalist, yet hospitals all over the United States unintentionally do so. Not that hospitals are allowing intoxicated hospitalists on the clock, but when a tired physician clock’s in studies suggest that it is equivalent to intoxication.
A Study Analyzing the Effects of Physician Fatigue on Performance
A recent study by Baylor University Medical Center suggests that a fatigued physician is at higher risk of making mistakes than that of an impaired physician.
“In an effort to provide policymakers and the community with an easily grasped index of the relative impairment associated with fatigue, Dawson and Reid (15) expressed fatigue-related impairment as a blood-alcohol equivalent. Forty subjects took part in 2 counterbalanced studies comparing the effect of fatigue with that of alcohol. They found that after 24 hours of sustained wakefulness, cognitive psychomotor performance decreased to a level equivalent to that at a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10%.” Michael A. E. Ramsay, MD – Baylor University Medical Center. (NCBI Study – PMCID: PMC1312297)
Consider the Legal Ramifications
Who is at risk when a fatigued provider is on-call? Most important the patient’s life is at risk. “…Between the hours of 1:30a and 4:00a it is hard for a physician to maintain the same level of vigor that was present the rest of the time.” Baylor Study. Patient’s deserve the highest level of care always, no matter the time. Also, the physician is at risk and so is the staff supporting them. Everyone is responsible for the care of patients. If your critical access hospital has a fatigued hospitalist on-staff in the overnight hours then your hospital is 2.2 times more likely to make mistakes, and those mistakes put your hospital in a legally tough situation.
There is a Solution to Overnight Hospitalist Coverage
Horizon Virtual provides your hospital with fresh, lively, and energetic internal medicine doctors remotely via the use of technology.