doctors and sleep

I’m watching the learning channel and tonight they are in a real life emergency room. They are talking to one of the doctors and she said she has been working for 20 hours and can’t go home for another 16! She also said it’s not unusual for her to go 48 hours without sleep.
I want to why that is allowed. I hear that it is normal for that to happen (especially med students). It seems to me that you wouldn’t be in any physical shape to do anything if you go without sleep for that long, let alone work in life-and-death situations. If i was a patient I wouldn’t want a doctor who hasn’t slept in, say, 30 hours. Is it because they are shortstaffed or something?

Sometimes life is so great you just gotta muss up your hair and quack like a duck!

No, MaryAnn, it isn’t because they are short-staffed. There have been several programs on this on 60 Minutes, etc., and I have a friend whose daughter is caught in this system. I have talked to her about this at some length.

Residents are subject to something akin to the “hazing” system. It seems to have evolved entirely from doctors of the ‘old system’ who need to ‘introduce’ new doctors to the rigors of medicine.

New doctors are still routinely subjected to endless hours of being ‘on call’ in a hospital, required to make life-and-death decisions while under extreme duress, particularly sleep deprivation. supposed to make them more ‘manly’ doctors.

it is archaic, obscene, and virtually unchangeable, since ‘the system’ is what all doctors adhere to.

change? very difficult. protect yourself? equally difficult. doctors are like cops in this regard; a ‘blue wall’ of silence. they like it.

Lucky for them, they are docs and can just take some cool drugs to keep themselves awake.

I’ve heard the same thing. Having worked in a medicine for a couple of years, residents I knew went through hell. Some would love to get rid of it, but some feel that they haven’t “proved” themselves if they don’t do it and get through it like the big/old dogs did.

Carpe Diem!

Reading the Subject line quickly, I thought it said “doctors and sheep”. Luckily, I realized my error before sharing any potentially embarassing anecdotes…

Don’t let that stop you Doc F. – feel free to go on . . . BTW, have you ever heard of the “LuvEwe”? Instead of a plastic blow-up woman, it’s a plastic blow-up sheep, but the, um, intended use is the same. (Actually, it’s more of a gag gift – I assume?)

The show you’re referring to is, I believe, “Trauma: Life In The E.R.,” which is my absolute favorite show!

Yes, this post is 100% from any constructive comment. :slight_smile:

Make that “100% FREE from” etc.

“Residents are subject to something akin to the “hazing” system. It seems to have evolved entirely from doctors of the ‘old system’ who need to ‘introduce’ new doctors to the rigors of medicine.”

One thing you must bear in mind is that even established doctors practicing in any sort of field with potential for emergency situations to arise will continue to have on-call duty for the remainder of their careers.

My mother is a partner in an obstetrics practice and trades weekend call with her partner. That means that any time either of their patients has a situation (ummm, labor, hemorrhage (sp) etc.) arise between 6 pm Friday and 9 am Monday, the partner on call has to get up, come in, and take care of it. I presume that other specialists (cardiologist?) have a similar system, although I doubt there are a lot of 3am podiatric emergencies.

Point being, this training that residents receive a preparation for the very real conditions they will face in their future careers, not some sort of quasi-fascist torture. Real medical emergencies occur at all times of day, and it’s not uncommon for them to occur one right after another while one doctor is on call. That’s the price that doctors pay to have the odd weekend off.

I once heard it has to do with being prepared for military service, too. Doctors in wars have to do things like work 48 hrs with little or no sleep. So, the US Military wanted doctors to be trained to do this. Again, this seems like an ancient holdover from the WW1 and WW2 days, when the US had a draft and the military was different.

I wouldn’t want a doctor who was sleep deprived either, but a soldier with bad wounds from a war would.

At Community Hospital near Monterey, California, they have a room off of the ER section where doctors can take a nap during those long hours. A couple people told me they also use the rooms to have sex with the nurses.

A better way to ask that question would be:
“Would you work a 48 hour shift for $11,000?”

Can you say ‘Coffee’ MaryAnn?

There is a posting by Diane in the MPSIMS forum talking about Draft plans for medical staff in case of an emergency. I think that is why doctors are trained for 48 hr shifts–in case of war of other emergencies, where a sleepy doctor is better than no doctor.