Long Shifts Increase Likelihood of Car Accidents
New research shows that long hospital shifts lead to an increase in car accidents
New research conducted by Bar-Ilan University's Research Institute of Human Factors in Road Safety shows that long hospital shifts lead to an increase in car accidents.
The research examines the effect that long work hours, large numbers of patients, and a lack of sleep – together with traffic congestion – have on car accidents.
The study shows that doctors report more traffic violations and mistakes, and exhibit more aggressive driving patterns, following long shifts. Prof. Tova Rosenbloom, Chair of the Research Institute of Human Factors in Road Safety, said that "the study tested the functionality of medical residents at five different points in time. The results prove that 26-hour shifts cause damage, not always immediately on the drive home after the shift, but also in the following day or two. At times, the stress of an upcoming shift can also lead to accidents."
The study also found a lasting and chronic impact on residents who perform long shifts of 26 hours or more. Dr. Danny Hazan, who led the study together with Prof. Rosenbloom, is himself nearing the end of his residency in general surgery. According to Hazan, "Most of the subjects examined in the study, all of whom were doctors and residents, suffer from damage to their mental and physical health accompanied by obesity, excessive irritability, and chronic fatigue. The stress that they are under increases the likelihood of getting into a traffic accident. From my point of view as a resident, we need to increase awareness of the situation and continue to research nationwide the dangers facing medical residents in general and surgeons in particular."