If you go into the hospital for surgery, you expect that the nurses and doctors responsible for your care and treatment will be at the top of their games. They certainly would be sober, as well as alert and well-rested, right?
But as it turns out, sleep deprivation in medical professionals is a real problem. Medical Daily reports that roughly 30% of the adults in the United States suffer from the condition — and some work in the medical field.
Nurses who work swing shifts and they are particularly vulnerable. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) conducted a study that found that nurses working the third shift missed out on as many as one to four hours of sleep each week. Additionally, as many as 20% self-reported that they struggled to remain awake at work while caring for their patients.
This is a real problem. The Foundation for Traffic Safety division of AAA studied the effect of sleep deprivation on risk of involvement in collisions while driving. They determined that when drivers slept less than seven hours in any single day, they doubled their risk of getting into an accident.
The problem worsened with fewer hours slept, as motorists sleeping only four or five hours had four times the risk of getting into accidents.
The correlation between enhanced risk of wrecks and poor performance in the medical field indicates the reduced concentration and poor judgment exhibited by the chronically tired. Their brains are operating on too little fuel to produce optimum results.
Imagine that the nurse in charge of your post-op care is seriously sleep-deprived on night three of a week of sleeping less than seven hours per night.
That nurse might incorrectly interpret your vital signs and fail to alert the doctor to dangerous changes in hearttate or breathing. Your very life could be at risk.
If you know or suspect that a nurse’s error was caused by sleep deprivation, you may be able to take legal action for any worsened condition you suffered as a result.