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Can Exhaustion in Doctors and Nurses Result in Medical Malpractice?

Posted on March 16, 2018

Doctors, nurses and the entire staff at a hospital are expected to always give proper care of their patients. Sometimes improper treatment caused by fatigue could occur and a legal claim could arise.

photo by Robin Higgins

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is defined as a medical negligence that results in errors of diagnosis, treatments, surgery, aftercare or health management. Common examples of medical malpractice include prescribing the wrong type of medications, leaving a foreign object in the body after surgery and other surgical errors. Any of these errors caused by fatigue could be considered medical malpractice.

Performing Medical Procedures While Feeling Fatigued is Putting Your Patients at Risk

Fatigue impairs judgement and could cause issues like a misdiagnosis. Not only does this impact doctors, but also nurses, especially with their exhausting shifts. Being tired on the job can result in many serious consequences, especially when a person’s health is in your care. Being fatigued will hurt your concentration and the ability to stay focused among other things.

There Are Things That Can be Done to Prevent Fatigue in Hospitals

It helps to follow specific regulations to prevent fatigue in doctors and nurses on the job. One of those regulations is to enforce doctors and nurses to only work 12-hour shifts and work no more than 40 hours per week. Also, try to minimize the number of night shifts in a row if they are working both day and night shifts. Another way to prevent fatigue is to limit the amount of overtime that a doctor or nurse can work. Depending on the hospital, there are many other policies that can be adopted to help with fatigue on the job that could result in medical malpractice.