When a person in Massachusetts or another state visits a doctor’s office or hospital, he or she can reasonably expect that every member of an attending medical team is going to adhere to industry regulations and safety protocol while providing care. Whether the visit is a scheduled examination or surgery or an emergency situation, a patient is not responsible for a medical worker’s actions and should be able to trust that proper diagnosis and treatment will be given. Sadly, medical malpractice causes thousands of patient injuries, even fatalities, every year.
More than 11,000 physicians took part in a survey several years ago that included questions about an issue that appears to significantly increase the risk of medical error. That issue is sleep deprivation. In fact, survey respondents who were categorized in the group of most-sleep deprived respondents were determined to have as much as a 97% increased risk for causing medical errors.
It was not only the physicians with the greatest amount of sleep deprivation who responded to the survey, saying that they had self-reported medical errors in the past. Even those who were considered only moderately deprived of sleep reportedly had more than a 50% increased chance of making a mistake that could potentially cause injury to a patient. The authors of the study distributed their survey in at least 11 medical centers throughout the country. In light of survey results, they concluded that intervention is sorely needed in the United States in order to mitigate sleep impairment among physicians.
If a Massachusetts medical worker is so fatigued that he or she commits a medical error during surgery or when administering medication or in some other way, it can cause severe, even life-threatening, injury to a patient. By law, that patient may seek justice by filing a medical malpractice claim in a civil court to request compensation for damages. In such cases, a plaintiff is tasked with providing evidence to show the court not only that negligence occurred but that it was a direct cause of injury.