Today is July 1—the day new doctors begin working in our nation’s hospitals. Do you realize new doctors work 28-hour shifts? Here’s what you need to know: My dog groomer works 8-hour shifts. Over 8 hours, groomers are less attentive to panting—and pets die. My pilot can fly 9 hours. Over 9 hours, pilots are less attentive—and planes crash. Yet new doctors are forced to work 28-hour shifts. Ya see, labor laws protect pilots and passengers, pet groomers and pets. Not doctors or patients. Working more than 24 hours is like having a blood alcohol level beyond the legal limit to drive a car. Would you take your poodle to a drunk pet groomer? Board a plane with a drunk pilot? Why go to hospitals forcing doctors to work more than 24 hours? You deserve a well-rested doctor—and your doctor deserves sleep. Medical mistakes are reported to be the third leading cause of death. Sleep deprivation has led to patient deaths and physician suicides. Always ask your doctors how long they’ve been at work and boycott hospitals that abuse doctors and patients.
TAKE ACTION NOW:
1) Always ask your doctors how long they’ve been on shift. You have the right to request a doctor who is alert and well-rested. Your doctor has a human right to sleep. Boycott hospitals that abuse doctors and patients.
2) Document all episodes of sleep deprivation endangering the lives of medical professionals and patients depending on their care. Reference Human Rights Violations in Medicine: A-to-Z Action Guide. Medical mistakes escalate when doctors work beyond 24 hours as these sleep-deprived doctors reveal.
3) Never drive yourself home after a > 24-hour shift. Call Uber or Lyft. Doctors have been in fatal car crashes after long shifts.
4) If your workplace is unsafe, unhealthful, or hazardous due to sleep deprivation, contact OSHA and NIOSH. File a confidential OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) complaint to trigger an on-site inspection by a compliance officer trained to protect workers and their rights. Then request a health hazard evaluation through NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health). They will perform an assessment of physician work conditions and file a report with recommendations. Three employees are required to request a NIOSH evaluation. Your identity will remain confidential.
5) File a confidential complaint with the Joint Commission and ACGME to have your workplace inspected when sleep deprivation is a hazard to human health. Seek legal counsel for further help.
6) File a complaint with the New York State Department of Health under the 405 Regulations if you have suffered work-hour violations in New York, where medical trainees sustain greater assaults yet have greater protections than physicians in the rest of the United States. ACGME policies may be in conflict with your state laws. If you feel your rights have been breached in New York, seek legal counsel.
7) Let ACGME CEO Dr. Thomas Nasca know how you feel about his decision to allow doctors to work 28+ hours without sleep: Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education 401 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 2000, Chicago, IL 60611 or call 312.755.5000. Email Dr. Nasca: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Need confidential help? Read Action Guide above, then contact Dr. Wible.
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New Doctor’s DNA Ages 6 Times Faster Than Normal In First Year!
Yet another piece of evidence that medical training is killing our best and brightest—-not only their mental health with high suicide rates from irresponsible medical training. Also their physical health. We should all be outraged. Speak up.
I just called the ACGME to leave a message for Thomas Nasca. I let him know that I believe extension of resident work hours is irresponsible and it ignores the current science around sleep deprivation. I left this message on the ACGME voice mail. If lots of us do this it will send a clear message.
THANK YOU for speaking up for our new doctors who too often feel they can not speak up for themselves.
“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” ~ Martin Niemöller
“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Martin Luther King, Jr
We must protect and defend each other. We are all in this together and it will take us all to break free from the cycle of abuse that has been normalized as part of medical “education.”
I’ve been studying sleep and it’s more critical to health than most anything. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep for adults can prevent illness and especially çancer. Children need 12-13 hours and teens need 9-11 every night.
I am fortunate to be an intern in psychiatry and my first month, which will be typical timewise for most of my inpatient blocks- is actually going really well, and I have plenty of time for self care, sleep, hobbies etc. Luckily psychiatry residents seem to care about residents mental health…go figure. But I also remember malignant services at my medical school and I just could not imagine spending 3-7 years in a brutal, hierarchy w/ top down shaming and displacement in the name of “education” and brutal work hours. It’s a recipe for depression/anxiety/trauma. This is a great list of action steps we can take to help ourselves and our patients.
So happy for you. I loved my residency too. A great program can make all the difference.