An estimated one million medical injuries take place each year in the United States based on a number of reports from the legal sector. Of those, only a small percentage proceed to trial. Even fewer are resolved in the courtroom rather than being settled out of court. In almost all cases, malpractice has deemed the result of carelessness in one form or another.
Exploring the Different Types of Negligence in Malpractice Cases
For further details on the numerous types of negligence often arising in medical injury and malpractice cases, visit Thurswell Law today. Though some are well beyond the control of healthcare personnel, such as product liability, many fall on the shoulders of physicians and nurses. Failure to recommend appropriate treatment, surgical errors, misdiagnoses and mistakes in dosing and administering medications are only a few issues in this category.
Unearthing an Unexpected Culprit in Malpractice Cases
While a number of elements come into play in malpractice cases, one highly common issue among members of the medical field may be a significant contributing factor. New studies are showing sleep deprivation might be the reason behind more medical mistakes than some might imagine. Considering the wide range of physical and psychological effects of sleep loss, these studies could certainly shed new light on the matter.
How Does Sleep Deprivation Factor into Malpractice?
Those in the medical field are well aware of the demands of the job. Long hours, back-to-back shifts and being on call around the clock aren’t uncommon by any means. Losing sleep during days off while trying to make up for a lost time at home only exacerbates the situation. Resulting fatigue seems to be taking its toll on healthcare workers.
According to a recent report from a healthcare accreditation organization, The Joint Commission, medical personnel subjected to frequent twenty-four-hour shifts make an estimated 36 percent more serious errors than those working fewer consecutive hours. This report goes on to point out working around the clock may lead to 300 percent more mistakes causing patient deaths.
Significant sleep loss in the medical field may bring about balance and coordination deficiencies, slight dizziness or lightheadedness and lack of good judgement. Blurred vision and slowed reaction times can likewise become issues.
Healthcare information and education resource, Medscape notes these effects are comparable to those of blood alcohol levels of 0.05 to 0.10 percent, the latter of which is considered legally intoxicated. Such impacts are believed to lead to misdiagnoses, communication breakdowns and medication errors along with other potentially dangerous mistakes.
Detachment from Duties
Research shows lack of sleep may be a cause for apathy among doctors and nurses. When sleep deprivation goes on for extended periods, medical personnel have been found to lose interest in their duties and responsibilities. Diminished responsiveness and reduced concern for patients’ needs and emotional states also tend to develop over time.
Most healthcare personnel believe sleep deprivation has no impact on their performance, but current studies show otherwise. In truth, it could have a significant influence on their ability to provide patients with the highest possible quality of care. This certainly warrants further research on the extent to which fatigue plays a role in malpractice cases.
All Things Considered
Although links have been established between fatigue and medical errors, this common issue is largely overlooked when investigating malpractice claims. Sleep deprivation is known to negatively impact medical professionals’ physical and mental capacities as well as their abilities to fully understand just how significantly it may be affecting them. Though efforts to mitigate this issue in the healthcare field are underway, they have yet to become standard practice.