Doctors Need More Sleep

In the year 2011, the Federal Aviation Association created new legislation for pilots. It stipulated that no pilot should get less than 10 hours of sleep between shifts piloting planes. The reason for this is that lives are on the line every time a pilot gets into a plane and takes to the sky.

Doctors and nurse practitioners have no such requirement. In fact, “Jack Bauer” is a slang term among some in the medical profession, a reference to the Kiefer Sutherland character of the series 24, which is a series in which a crisis is dealt with over a period of 24 hours with no rest in sight.

Error related to fatigue is a common problem in the medical profession. There are many causes for the fatigue, some of them unavoidable, such as an OBGYN watching over a woman in delivery as labor extends well past estimates. Other causes, however, seem easily preventable, such as a doctor being forced to stay up late into the night, filling out the required sections of an EHR that there wasn’t time to address during the actual clinic hours, because too many patients needed immediate help and consultation, and there wasn’t enough time to fill forms and help people at the same time.

Eliminating Time Sinks

Because of this, the Joint Commission, an organization that works with and evaluates health care groups across America reported in 2011 that “the link between health care worker fatigue and adverse events is well documented.” It’s not rocket science to anyone. A tired, overworked doctor or nurse practitioner that doesn’t get enough time to “recharge batteries” and rest is going to make mistakes. And, like pilots, those mistakes can cause injury, even loss of life in the worst case scenario.

A trained, professional medical scribe, like the ones available at ProScribe are one way we can minimize these time sinks. There’s still a need to correctly fill out forms, but if someone else is doing them, care givers can get more done during the day, and, at the end of the day, can actually go home, rather than face a mountain of paperwork. All parts of operating a clinic or maintaining an ER are important. But health care experts should be focusing on practicing medicine, not filling out forms.