Fatigue is an issue that affects many professionals, including airline pilots, commercial tractor-trailer truck drivers and bus drivers. Indeed, our Chicago truck accident lawyers have represented families of those killed when their vehicles were struck by tractor-trailers whose drivers had either fallen asleep or were fatigued — as evidence by driver violations of hours of service safety regulations.
Although transportation industry-related professions have received most of the attention from regulators concerning fatigue prevention, and with good cause, the effect of fatigue on doctors and medical professionals is moving to the forefront of patient safety. Doctor fatigue is one potential cause of patients becoming permanently injured or killed by medical malpractice.
Earlier this month, a coalition of public safety and public interest groups, including Public Citizen and Mothers Against Medical Errors, launched WakeUpDoctor.org as part of its “campaign to increase public awareness and gather stories about patients who have received inferior medical care from fatigued physicians.” The campaign is an effort to make give voice to patients who have suffered preventable medical errors while under the care of a doctor suffering from fatigue.
Serious medical error caused by physician fatigue may be actionable negligence. If you suspect a permanent injury or death was caused by medical negligence, contact the Chicago medical malpractice attorneys of Passen & Powell today at (312) 527-4500 for a Free Consultation.
The Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the organization responsible for regulating residency training programs, is set to come out with new guidelines this year on safer work hours and better supervision. The forthcoming guidelines are in response to December of 2008 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report titled “Resident Duty Hours: Enhancing Sleep, Supervision, and Safety.”
The report focused on residents, who are doctors-in-training. Residency programs last from three to five years, during which resident doctors work shifts of 24-30 consecutive hours, then a 12-hour shift followed by another 24-30 hour shift. And 24-30 consecutive hour shifts are often scheduled ten times a month. Such scheduling leaves little room for residents to sleep, leading to fatigue and otherwise preventable medical errors.
The report made a series of recommendations, including:
• Defined off-duty periods between shifts based on the timing and duration of shifts
• Increase number of mandatory days off
• Restrict medical moonlighting by residents during their off-hours
Stricter reporting rules were also recommended, such as more frequent and unannounced visits to check for compliance.
For a Free Consultation with one of our Chicago medical negligence lawyers, call Passen & Powell at (312) 527-4500.