Early appointments usually mean less waiting, and you’re able to just get on with your day after you see the doc. A new study offers another reason: doctors’ fatigue later in the day may make them miss critical medical signs.
The four-month research study measured the results of 28 colonoscopy doctors, a.k.a. endoscopists, over the course of each day, as the doctors looked for polyps, abnormal growths that can sometimes develop into colon cancer, in their patients. The study found that, on average, doctors spotted just over half the polyps in the last appointment as they did for the first procedure. Each later appointment was also linked to about a 5 per cent reduction in polyp detection.
Doctors’ fatigue and long work shifts are probably at the root of this issue, and maybe also the rush to catch up towards the end of the day.
While the study results aren’t necessarily applicable to all types of medical appointments, other studies confirm that doctor fatigue can cause medical errors.
There’s little doubt that fatigue can negatively affect the quality of any kind of work quality; in fact serious lack of sleep can be considered as bad as being drunk on the job. Some professions where alertness is more critical, like surgery or piloting, unfortunately are the ones that tax their workers the most when it comes to sleep.
As the researchers note, however, there are many other factors that influence how well a procedure goes, and “patients should be more concerned with the quality of the doctor, than their position in line at the doctor’s office”. Photo by SavvyChristine
Doctors less deft at colonscopy as day goes on [Reuters Health]