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Fatigue in doctors and nurses can lead to mistakes

People in Pennsylvania get differing amounts of sleep each night. The recommendations on what the appropriate amount of sleep is for adults varies, but each person needs to get enough sleep to feel alert and awake. If they do not get the appropriate amount of sleep, people are generally lackadaisical and they do not think through problems very effectively. For many people, the results of mistakes made while tired are not life-changing. However, mistakes can be life-altering when doctors and other medical personnel are fatigued.

In the medical field, it is important that these professionals are able to evaluate risks, understand the consequences of their actions, be able to quickly change plans when the circumstances change and perform other actions that utilize the prefrontal cortex of the brain. That part of the brain is sensitive to sleep deprivation and fatigue. Studies have also found that doctors can perform things that are exciting, like surgeries, when tired, but it's the more mundane tasks such as reading lab results or administering medication that can suffer.

Those rather mundane tasks can have major effects on patients' well-being, though. If an improper amount of a medication or the wrong medication is given, it can cause serious problems. This is also true if treatments are determined by lab results which were read incorrectly.

Patients who suffer the adverse consequences of these mistakes may end up in a worse situation than when they initially went to the hospital. This can be very devastating for the patient and costly. The hope is that the doctors can fix their mistake, but in order to be compensated for the financial problems, the patient may need to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

It is important that people in Pennsylvania receive the proper medical care when they go to the doctor. So, it is important that the doctors and medical professionals are not overly fatigued, which can lead to mistakes. The victims of these mistakes may have their lives negatively impacted. Therefore, they may want to seek compensation for the damages they suffered. These are very complicated matters though, so it is important that victims of medical malpractice understand how the law will apply to their situation, so they can make appropriate choices.

Source: psnet.ahrq.gov, "Fatigue, Sleep Deprivation, and Patient Safety" accessed on May 1, 2018

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