Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Cranky Medical Residents

This article is on the general topic of how dangerous hospital physicians with bad tempers can be for the overall effectiveness of the system. However, the reference, quoted below, to a cranky, sleepy resident who couldn't be troubled, particularly interests me.

The American Medical Association frequently publishes articles calling attention to the health implications of people not getting enough sleep. But their industry is the absolutely, positively worst violator. What medical residents go through is insane.
It was the middle of the night, and Laura Silverthorn, a nurse at a hospital in Washington, knew her patient was in danger.

The boy had a shunt in his brain to drain fluid, but he vomiting and had an extreme headache, two signs that the shunt was blocked and fluid was building up. When she paged the on-call resident, who was asleep in the hospital, he told her not to worry.

After a second page, Ms. Silverthorn said, “he became arrogant and said, ‘You don’t know what to look for — you’re not a doctor.’ ”

He ignored her third page, and after another harrowing hour she called the attending physician at home. The child was rushed into surgery.
How much of a contributor is sleep deprivation?

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