Even people who are not in the medical field know the stereotypes about sleep that come with it. Hospitals seem constantly understaffed. Nurses and doctors seem overworked, with many working shifts well over eight hours at a time.
Unfortunately, the sleepless life of a medical professional can actually put your license in jeopardy.
Cognitive impairment from fatigue
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality examines how fatigue affects patient safety. Fatigue is a huge cognitive impairment that worsens as you grow more exhausted. The only true cure is to sleep. Despite this, many people who keep exhausting schedules swear by wakefulness tricks. This can lead to a false sense of control over fatigue when it does not truly exist.
How does fatigue impact cognitive capabilities? Some of the most common effects include:
- Slowed reflexes and reaction time
- Inattentiveness and an inability to focus
- A shortened attention span
- “Spacing out” and missing crucial information
- Troubles with memory
Medical errors caused by fatigue
Needless to say, these pose a big issue if you work in the medical field. In fact, many medical mistakes end up attributed to exhaustion or fatigue on the part of the medical staff. Some common examples of errors caused by fatigue include:
- Giving a patient the wrong dosage of the right medication
- Giving a patient the wrong medication
- Forgetting to check up on certain patients
- Missing warning signs before a situation turns critical
As part of medical staff, even a small mistake could have potentially lethal consequences. This is why medical negligence due to fatigue can still lead to the loss of your license.