Fatigue = Errors

Physician's Money Digest, January15 2005, Volume 12, Issue 1

New England Journal

of Medicine

Medical interns who work morethan the mandatory limit of 80 hours aweek are more likely to make seriousmedical errors, according to a studypublished in the . Errors ranged from prescribingdangerously high doses of medicationsto wrong diagnoses. Overworkedinterns, according to the study,made 21% more serious medicationerrors and 34% more serious errorsoverall than colleagues who workedfewer hours and got more sleep.Although other staff members usuallycaught the mistakes before any patientswere put in jeopardy, the study is likelyto provide added ammunition to thosewho are working to cut back on thehours that doctors-in-training spend onthe job. Last year, the AccreditationCouncil for Graduate Medical Educationissued rules limiting the hours that internsand residents can be required to work,but not all hospitals are observing them.