Articles  |   June 2016
Anesthesiologists and Fatigue: A Call to Action
Article Information
Ethics / Medicolegal Issues / Articles
Articles   |   June 2016
Anesthesiologists and Fatigue: A Call to Action
ASA Monitor 06 2016, Vol.80, 26-29.
ASA Monitor 06 2016, Vol.80, 26-29.
Over the past few years, increasing attention has been paid to the role of physician fatigue in patient safety and quality of care. Though clinical data on the impact of fatigue remain limited, there is abundant laboratory evidence documenting that sleep deprivation impairs performance.1  Perhaps more important, common sense dictates that a physician anesthesiologist will perform better when well-rested.
In response to such concerns, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has taken a strong position on the role of fatigue during training, requiring that trainees work on average fewer than 80 hours per week and have sufficient “protected” sleep time. Several professional organizations have begun to address fatigue and its impact on clinical care. Most importantly, from the perspective of public trust, it is becoming increasingly hard to dismiss the significance of fatigue for the practice of medicine in general and anesthesia in particular. For anesthesiologists and departments of anesthesiology, this issue has taken onincreasing significance. Escalating clinical demands, sub-specialization and extension of our roles to environments outside of the O.R. have, in many cases, necessitated longer work hours and more call teams to ensure appropriate coverage of all clinical sites. As a result, fatigue has, to some extent, become an unintended consequence of some of the changes taking place in health care – and one that requires some creativity to address.
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