Scary if true:"On duty at a San Francisco hospital for nearly 29 hours, he (the doctor) was at the bedside of a very sick patient when the man's oxygen level began to plummet. He stared, transfixed, at the monitor. "I knew something was wrong, but I couldn't make myself think," he recalled. Only after a colleague walked into the room, pushed him on the shoulder and said "Get going" did the exhausted doctor spring into action."
I had heard that this sort of thing could happen, perhaps you had too. It made me wonder if the practice of interns working long, sleepless shifts, some reported as long as 24 hours straight, could lead to this sort of thing, or if the practice actually had justifiable reasons. Or maybe it was almost just a sort of "initiation ritual" to becoming a hospital doctor. (Senior doctor: "I had to do this, so you're going to do it too!").
The first article linked below is pro on this issue. The second one is con.
Reasons in favor from the pro article:Interns must do this so "... that they learn to effectively manage fatigue."
"... shorter shifts have resulted in greater work compression, forcing interns to cram more work into fewer hours and depriving them of valuable education by limiting the time they can spend treating patients whose illnesses evolve."
Reasons against from the con:"A single night without sleep results in a less structured method of processing information; interferes with the ability to remember and identify details."
"(During a 24-hour in-house call) ... (residents) make 36 % more serious medical mistakes, and they are nearly six times more likely to make serious diagnostic errors."
But perhaps steps have been taken to address the problem. The first article states that "... the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education reduced the maximum allowable shift for the least experienced doctors from 30 straight hours to 16." (Still, even 16 hours seems like a long stretch).
Presumably, even when those interns have been working those long shifts, there was always some kind of monitoring system in place, perhaps from afar, to insure that the person wasn't making serious errors due to sleep fatigue.
Finally, the Wikipedia article on this topic, though lengthy, seems pretty definitive on the matter:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/medical_resident_work_hours
Let's hear it if you have an opinion on this practice, agreeing or disagreeing with it.
Speaking for myself, I would really, really like it if the physician attending to me, assuming I was in the hospital for something serious, was pretty much wide awake, and didn't close his eyes, nod his head, and start snoozing standing up, while standing over me, due to long shift or otherwise.
But maybe that's just me.
Chronic prostatitis (age 60 on)
BPH w/ urinary obstruction, 6/2011
Ongoing high PSA, 7/2011-12/2011
Biopsy, 12/2011: positive 3/12 (90%, 70%, 5%)
Gleason 6(3+3), T1c
No mets, PCa likely still organ contained
IMRT w/ HT (Lupron), 4/2012-6/2012
PSAs (since post-IMRT): 0.1 or lower