Some employers are now providing cab rides for physicians because they’re too fatigued to drive safely after their hospital shifts.
Just got this email from a resident [physician-in-training]: “OMG. See below. The violations and consequences pretty much deter you from ever bothering to want to use this service.”
My response: “If doctors are so tired they can’t drive, why are they being allowed to care for hospitalized patients? If they can’t safely drive a car, why are they being allowed to run ventilators in the ICU?”
His response: “Exactly. And then let’s offer residents a ride in the most threatening way possible so that there is no chance they will take it. It’s all so stupid that it’s painful. I think you need to publish volume two of Physician Suicide Letters—Answered and just publish documents like this. They speak for themselves just like the letters.”
I reply: “Sleep deprivation is a torture technique and a form of hazing common in medical training. Did you see my TEDMED talk where I discussed this?”
He responds: “The funny part is, how often does a doctor ever not work 12 hours and not feel exhausted. I think any physician would have difficulty abusing this. However my bet is, if you were to use this too often—whatever that is—(even within their stated criteria of 12 hours and exhaustion) you would be called in for a chat to ask why it is that you are so tired so often, and more absurd, humiliating questions. Kind of like our work hours reporting now. [Residents are limited to an 80-hour work week]. We have learned not to report working beyond 80 hours/week. If you do you are called in to discuss the “hour violations” and a chat about how inefficient you are. So everyone lies, everyone works way over what they report, and yes everyone is still exhausted. Round and round we go . . .”
Pamela Wible, M.D., is a physician who is outraged by the health care cycle of abuse that wounds physicians and patients alike. She helps physicians break free of the cycle of abuse at biannual retreats. Need help? Contact Dr. Wible.