Why You May Want to Avoid Hospitals When Residents Start Their Rotation

by Jonathan Rosenfeld on Mar. 04, 2020

Accident & Injury Medical Malpractice Accident & Injury  Malpractice 

Summary: Admission to a hospital during a new rotation of resident training can be deadly for patients as residents are frequently inadequately trained and are sleep deprived.

In the medical industry, doctors who finish their medical schooling must receive training in a specialized area, as a resident. The doctor’s residency (doctor in training) provides post-graduate instruction to advance his or her medical education.

Unfortunately, many patients in hospital environments are at an increased risk of experiencing severe injury or death when the medical resident has reached the end of their monthly rotation. These doctors will move on to another specialty as a new resident takes his or her place.

While the rotation for a first-year resident may occur every month, third-year residency doctors typically experienced a two to four-week rotation to work with other doctors in various disciplines in a hospital setting.

Hospitalization Can Be Challenging

There have been significant advancements in state-of-the-art technology in the medical industry, improving the lives and longevity of patients. Many patients arrive at the hospital to receive care in the hopes that their health will be better when discharged. Even so, hospitalization can still be dangerous.

Many hospitals have access to quality resources to provide the ultimate care delivered by highly competent doctors. However, some issues are unavoidable while under the care of a residency doctor who may be rotating to another specialty in the days ahead. A failure of continuity in health care could be catastrophic, especially for older patients that result in the worst outcome that could have been avoided or prevented.

Maintaining Continuity

To maintain continuity, many hospitals formulate guidelines for their doctors that are handing off their care to another physician at the end of one shift and the beginning of the next. The doctors will have a face-to-face discussion about what has happened to the patient during their shift and what is expected during the next shift.

Sadly, many hospitals fail to provide established protocols and guidelines when the resident is rotating off the floor and turning the care of the resident over for good to another doctor. Research indicates that tens of thousands of patients in studies died or were discharged from care within the first week after being transferred from one first year (intern) medical resident to another.

Some of these deaths happened in the first month or first three months after the hospital discharged the patient, although the researchers are not sure why.

Possible Contributing Factors

Correlating contributing factors that led to death can be challenging when the patient was discharged within days after the doctor’s rotation to another specialty. Researchers determined that some contributing factors might include the patient’s age, the length of time they stayed in the hospital, and their health issues.

Studies found a direct link between the in-hospital deaths and the handoff between rotating residents. However, it remains unclear why transitioning residents creates an unsafe environment for patients.

Working to Exhaustion

Sleep deprivation is a serious concern for every hospital resident. Statistics prove that medical residents work extremely long shifts in hospital settings, while advancing their education, which leads to fatigue and exhaustion. The high level of fatigue in their work environment can often lead to medical mistakes and mishaps.

In the medical industry, stress and fatigue are associated with dangerous errors that cause the patients severe harm. Many times, the doctor experiences a chaotic work schedule during their residency years while they are under constant supervision while learning their professional manner. The real-world experience of the resident’s specialized training in a hospital setting can lead to the patient’s detriment. The long hours working shifts lasting up to 36 hours straight can quickly lead to extreme exhaustion.

Residents Get Insufficient Sleep

Many workplace scientific studies reveal the correlation between a resident’s problems with attention and a lack of sleep that affects their overall health. Many medical students that are sleep deprived have altered performance and overall functionality. One research study identified surgical residents made 20% more mistakes compared to more rested doctors.

Workplace-related weariness caused by an overworked staff or handling too many patients also directly affects the patient’s safety. One resident handing off [patient information] to another doctor can lead to miscommunication and increase the potential for errors and complex mistakes that put the patient’s health at risk.

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