Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Don't Get Sick in July

Because a dear friend of mine became a night manager at a convenience store this year, and I've observed the effects on her working the graveyard shift, I've been looking at the effects of sleep deprivation. I also have heard her stories about the "night people," the people that frequent the store between midnight and 4:00 a.m. Many of them shift workers, and many of them working more than one job. Some have done so for years, and say, "You never get used to it."

What does it do to you to be up all night when you're supposed to -- biologically -- be sleeping? We'll be taking a look at this from different angles and here's one.

Maybe you haven't heard of this if you aren't in the medical community -- DON'T GET SICK IN JULY.


July 1 is when brand new baby physicians begin their internship, residency and clinical duties at teaching hospitals.

Common sense (emotional intelligence) would tell you you want an experienced professional if hospitalized, not to mention a rested and alert one, but I can tell you, having been married to a physician, that those schedules are grinding - almost a test of how well you can function without sleep.

There is some data to back this up.

According to "Near-miss errors in laboratory blood test requests by interns," there is an increased risk of error.

From the article:

The overall incidence of near-miss events when interns practiced during the first month of training vs. subsequent months was 1.6 vs. 0.6 cases per 100 intern-days at risk. The odds ratio for a near-miss event during the first month of intern training vs. subsequent months was 2.64.
That isn't exactly "alert the press information" -- that's why interns and residents are supervised. How well, is a function of hospital rigor and chance.

But take a look also at the effects of interns' on-call shift schedule as well:

One half of the near-miss episodes occurred during an intern's on-call days and another half of them during an extended on-call shift; none of the events occurred during a standard working shift. These events peaked in frequency when on-call interns had worked for 12–20 h.
So here's a matter of EQ -- if you, or someone you love, is hopitalized ever, but particularly in July at a teaching hospital, check out the 'state' of the doctor. You don't want an intern during his first month of clinical work who's on his 19th hour of duty on an on-call night ... do you?

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