One of the biggest reasons for all the hospital screw-ups you've been hearing about is that too many doctors are dead tired most of the time -- and they're not wiped out from cashing insurance checks or test-driving new Mercedes models.
Hospital docs, surgeons and interns work insane hours -- they're allowed to work 30 hours straight, the kinds of shifts that would knock anyone in any industry flat out.
Those little energy drinks won't do much for that kind of exhaustion.
Now, some researchers are finally calling for an end to this madness, or at least the beginning of the end. They wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine that hospitals should not allow surgeons to perform elective procedures if they worked through the previous night.
And at the very least, they said surgeons should warn a patient when they're functioning on little sleep -- and allow the patient to back out and reschedule.
I don't know about you, but if my surgeon told me he had been up all night, you wouldn't be able to get me out of there fast enough... so naturally, surgeons are dead-set against it.
In a competing editorial, three members of the American College of Surgeons insist they can handle surgery without sleep... which is like a drunk insisting he's OK to drive.
No exaggeration here -- because we know that sleep deprivation can have the same impact on the body as an all-night bender.
And we also know that sleepless docs and surgeons screw up more.
One study in 2009 found that patients operated on by sleep-deprived docs have nearly twice the rate of complications. An earlier study found that docs who worked long shifts were five times more likely to make diagnostic errors.
And you're expected to let this guy come at you with a scalpel? I wouldn't let him prepare a sandwich!
Enough's enough -- we force pilots, truck drivers, and nuclear power workers to take breaks because lives are on the line.
Why should docs be any different?