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Study highlights impact of sleep deprivation on patients and health care providers
Date:12/21/2011

A new UCLA study shows that physicians who work shorter shifts are less likely to make mistakes during medical procedures.

Dr. Christian De Virgilio, lead investigator at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor- UCL A Medical Center (LA BioMed), led a team that studied the medical records of 2,470 patients who had undergone laparoscopic gallbladder surgery. The study focused on operations that took place before and after rules were put in place in 2003 limiting hours worked by doctors. About half of the operations were performed before a reduction in hours, and the other half were performed after the reduction.

"We suspected that the outcomes would have been the same before and after," said Dr. De Virgilio. "Instead, the complication rate decreased. We are actually surprised to find the outcomes improved."

The UCLA study offers some of the first evidence that the rules put into place in 2003 establishing the current guidelines for physicians in training to work a maximum shift of 30 hours, with a maximum 80-hour work week, resulted in better care for patients. Previously, many doctors have argued that the limits interfere with the training of doctors but make no difference in patient care.

"The hard truth is that many hospitals do not adhere to the maximum allowable guidelines put in place in 2003," said Dr. Sean Darcy, University of California, Irvine (UCI) Surgical Resident and President of the Patient and Physician Safety Association. "In fact, many residents record their hours at below 80 and really work 80 hour weeks, and those that record otherwise or speak up are retaliated against by their superiors. Unfortunately, there is no real law to ensure the uniform standard being implemented by UCLA in accordance with the 2003 guidelines is actually being followed in other hospitals. The health care profession needs that type of enforceable law to make sure health care providers are not exceeding the m
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Contact: Diana Soltesz
diana@dsmmedia.com
818-592-6747
Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed)
Source:Eurekalert

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