Study: Long intern shifts pose safety risks

More evidence from the "tired interns make mistakes" front. A new study presented at a professional conference suggests that extended shifts pose a threat to patient safety, not to mention the health of the interns themselves. Researchers collected more than 17,000 monthly reports from a group of more than 2,700 interns. Study author Laura Barger of Brigham and Women's Hospital then conducted a data analysis to see whether 24-hour-plus shifts were associated with reported medical errors and intern stress. The results: when interns worked five or more extended shifts in a month, they were seven times more likely to report at least one significant medical error that harmed a patient. Even more troubling, they were 300 percent more likely to report fatigue-related errors causing patient deaths. Not too surprisingly, the interns reporting that they'd harmed a patient were three times as likely to report high stress in the same month.

To find out more about the study:
- read this article from HealthDay News