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Doctors working longer hospital hours could cause serious injury

When a Lake Charles resident goes to the hospital for treatment of an illness, condition or injury, there is an expectation that the medical professionals there will not only be competent and knowledgeable, but that they will not be hindered by long work hours and these will negatively affect their abilities. However, those work hours could present a problem as a recently implemented set of rules allows medical professionals to work for a far longer period than they did in the past. Patients who have suffered serious injury or a worsened condition and the loved ones of those who might have been severely harmed must be aware of this new rule to determine if there was a connection.

Doctors who have just graduated from medical school will now be able to work for 24 consecutive hours instead of the previous 16. In the past, some doctors who felt they could continue working were limited to those 16 hours and viewed this as a negative. The exchange of information from one doctor to the next was another limitation in the 16-hour rule. The idea is that the more information that is passed along and the increased frequency of it happening lends itself to errors.

It is also believed that doctors working shifts are not as invested in their patients as they otherwise would be. A first-year resident also has the alternative to stay at work longer than the 24 hours. Experienced doctors believe that since recent graduates are new and do not have experience, it could be a hindrance to optimal patient care to have them staying longer. A Harvard study showed that residents who worked for 24 hours or more made close to 36 percent more serious mistakes.

There are numerous reasons why a patient might have suffered serious injury or died while under medical care at a hospital. Patients and their families might never consider that the mistake occurred because a doctor had been working for an extended number of hours and was not at his or her best due to that workload. When there has been a worsened condition in the hospital or a belief that a mistake was made, long hours worked by the medical staff could be a reason for it. A medical error can lead to long-term damage, massive costs, lost wages and lifelong problems. A full investigation should be conducted to determine what happened and that can be accomplished by discussing a case with a legal professional experienced in medical malpractice.

Source: cbsnews.com, "Patient safety concerns over new 24-hour shift rule for first-year doctors," June 29, 2017

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