Healthcare Worker Fatigue and the Risk of Medical Malpractice

Especially in the field of healthcare, mistakes caused by worker fatigue can become both expensive and dangerous. Unfortunately, after only 12 hours of work, the chance of a medical professional making mistake doubles, according to the American Journal of Nursing (AJN). Understanding how understaffing, sickness, and lack of sleep leads to mistakes can assist patients in identifying them before they happen.

The Signs of Healthcare Worker Fatigue

Just like eating well and staying hydrated, sleep is an essential part of being healthy—and if you work in the medical profession, keeping patients and coworkers safe. Without sleep, the brain and body begin to slow and malfunction. As a patient, you can advocate for yourself and help prevent mistakes by keeping an eye out for the following signs of healthcare worker fatigue:

  • Tired doctors in a break roomInattention
  • Sluggishness, both physical and mental
  • Irritability and loss of empathy
  • Poor problem-solving
  • Confusion
  • Forgetfulness
  • Trouble communicating
  • Slowed reaction time

The Consequences of Fatigue-Related Mistakes

Unfortunately, hospital understaffing can lead to longer shifts for doctors and nurses, preventing them from getting enough sleep or resting adequately when they’re sick. Often, these root causes lead to fatigue, which can lead to devastating medical mistakes, such as:

  • Diagnosis problems. A doctor may make an incorrect diagnosis or miss a diagnosis entirely.
  • Communication problems. Record-keeping and record-reading may be compromised, leading to patient mix-ups, medication errors, or misinterpretation of medical history.
  • Treatment problems. Medical staff may administer wrong doses of medications, an incorrect treatment may be assigned, or a doctor may make a surgical mistake (such as performing surgery on the wrong site or wrong patient, or even leaving a surgical instrument inside a patient).

When Fatigue Leads to Medical Malpractice

If you’ve been injured because of a mistake made by a fatigued medical professional, an experienced lawyer can help you build a case to show that you were injured by a healthcare worker, the worker’s fatigue led to a mistake, and that the mistake caused your injury directly. The team at Tavss Fletcher has been serving our community and earning just compensation for our clients for decades. To speak with a lawyer about your case, fill out the online contact for on our website today.