The Unhealthy Duty Hours Of Doctors...an Emergency In Its Own Right
My attention has just been drawn to the case of a resident doctor facing disciplinary proceedings in Britain.
Dropping off to sleep while on call duty!
Such news coming just after the story of the Mexican doctor whose photo taken while napping on duty went viral...is just too painful to the committed doctor doing his very best to serve humanity...
Surely, this is the type of issue the uncaring public would love to feast on!
If senior doctors must overload their juniors with so many hours on duty at a stretch...80-100 uninterrupted call duty hours in many instances, why wouldn't such doctors drop off to sleep?! And why go to the extent of reporting the poor guy to the medical council rather than reduce his workload, have his seniors take up their fair share of the work they are paid to do, or treat his sleeping problem... Doctors would go to any length to treat sleeping problems in patients but rather villify themselves for daring to have such problems.
The fact that these seeming instances mostly occurred during the night is another point of focus....and human beings were created to sleep at night! So keeping vigils is cheating nature...and mere night shifts are bad enough!
Authorities in responsible climes tend to obviate these things for workers on shift duties by having them go off duty for several days...up to a week...after mere night duties....not the unholy marathon call duties of doctors ....where days just dovetail into one another as the doctor loses count on time like a prisoner in solitary confinement!
And the fact that pediatrics seems to be a recurring factor in bullying of subordinates should call for attention!
I am sure that doctor's seniors did not stand vigil over him to see if he would again sleep off. They must have acted on "Nurses' Reports".
Now, the standard state of affairs is to provide the doctor on call with a room...complete with a bed....and have nurses call him out whenever his input into patient care is required!
I have dropped to sleep on calls before... so has every doctor who has blood running in his veins....and the heavens have not fallen!
The accusers and prosecutors of this doctor have done him great injustice....tons and tons of it....for they had all slept on call duties before!
Dr Tosin Akindele is a medical practitioner and public affairs analyst.