Physician Sleep Deprivation – Potential Effects on Patient Care

It is well understood that resident, intern and attending physicians do not receive an adequate amount of sleep at night. Long on call hours, 24-hour shifts within the hospital and limited time off all contribute to poor quantity and quality of sleep. Research seems to suggest a potential effect on the quality of patient care as a result of such sleep deprivation.

A 2011 study that took place in Korea scored a number of residents and interns on sleep deprivation. Nearly 71% of participants were sleep deprived with a mean of only 5 (+/- 1.2) hours of sleep per night while working an average of 14.9 (+/- 2.7) hours a day. Among the most sleep deprived of participants, scores for attention deficit were higher than average, suggesting a potential difficulty in focusing on treatment and diagnoses of patient condition. Additionally, sleep deprivation made it more difficult for participants to learn new information, which may make the continuing education of such physicians more difficult.

Further research into sleep deprivation in general may also illustrate another potential barrier in professional performance. A literature analysis by Kamphuis illustrates that there is significant evidence to support a relationship between sleep deprivation and increased levels of aggression. In numerous studies, participants who reported a low quantity and/or quality of sleep also scored higher on indexes of anger, hostility and impulsivity compared to control groups. Interestingly, there appears to be a physiological component to such increased anger. Read full study at BrainBlogger...

Author of the report: 
John-Paul Whitman
Source of the report: