By Amy Orciari Herman
Edited by David G. Fairchild, MD, MPH, and Jaye Elizabeth Hefner, MD
NEJM Journal Watch
Physicians who report insufficient sleep are more likely to report medical errors, according to a JAMA Network Open study.
Over 11,000 physicians across 11 U.S. institutions completed a questionnaire that assessed tiredness, alertness, and functional impairment related to insufficient sleep. They also completed a survey on burnout and reported how frequently they made medical errors.
Compared with physicians who reported low sleep-related impairment, those with moderate, high, or very high impairment had increasingly higher odds of reporting clinically significant medical errors (odds ratios ranged from 1.53 to 1.97). Sleep-related impairment was also associated with physician burnout — and, in turn, each 1-point increase on a 10-point burnout scale was associated with 14% higher odds of reporting medical errors. Physician trainees were about twice as likely as attendings to report medical errors.
The researchers call for research into “effective interventions to reduce sleep-related impairment, with the goal of reducing harm to patients and physicians.”