High Car Accident Risks for Sleepy Medical Residents

Medical Residents talkingSleep deprivation is common for medical residents who are expected to be on call several hours a day, working long shifts, and getting very little sleep.  That sleep deprivation causes fatigue, increasing the risks of being involved in an accident while they’re driving home.

According to new research from the Mayo Clinic, medical residents have a much higher risk of being involved in an accident.  The researchers surveyed 300 medical residents, and found that 11% of them had been involved in accidents while driving home, while 43% reported that they had nearly been involved in an accident while driving.

The residents also reported frequently suffering from stress, depression as well as burnout.

It’s not that hospitals and doctors are not aware of the high health risks and injury risks to medical residents who work such long shifts.  Unfortunately, many hospitals have not taken the risk seriously, and continue to believe that working under such intense pressure and long shifts ultimately goes into making a better doctor.

The Mayo Clinic researchers want that situation to change.  They believe that it is important to develop interventions that can address resident fatigue and stress, not only to protect residents from accident risks, but also to enhance patient safety.  There’s no denying that patients are at risk from doctors who are stressed and more liable to make mistakes.

In fact, it’s not just auto accident risks that medical residents should be worried about.  It’s also the risk of exposure to infectious blood or body fluids.  In fact, at least 8% of the medical residents admitted that they had been exposed to patient blood or body fluids as a result of fatigue.

Photo Credit: Mercy Health