#119 Excessive hours and understaffing leading to clinical errors
12 December 2019
Half of the doctors-in-training (DiTs) surveyed in AMA Victoria’s Hospital Health Check admit they have made a clinical error in 2019 due to fatigue caused by working excessive hours.
Over 1100 DiTs completed the survey over the past month and the preliminary results clearly indicate that long hours and understaffing are issues the State Government needs to take more seriously.
“It is a brave admission from a lot of doctors that are in a vulnerable position,” AMA Victoria DiT Chair, Dr Nathan Abraham told the Herald Sun. “But they are seeing that this situation is not improving and is impacting their practise and ultimately it has significant implications for public care.”
“We are humans like anyone else but, also, we are taking care of people and when we are fatigued and making these levels of errors it is quite concerning.”
On average, in 2019, junior doctors worked 47 rostered hours per week, but 44 per cent regularly worked 52 hours per week and, in some cases, 72 hours per week.
The Hospital Health Check survey also found:
- 41 per cent have worked with less than a 10-hour break in between shifts
- excessive workloads and understaffing have led 60 per cent to make clinical errors
- half are being denied the five hours a week of training time away from patients that is part of their enterprise agreement entitlement
- a third knew of a colleague who had died by suicide.
AMA Victoria is calling on the State Government to provide sufficient funding so our public hospitals can have adequate resourcing and pay overtime properly. We must also ensure doctors are getting adequate rest between periods of work and on-call work and we also need to ensure redundancy in the system so that when a junior doctor needs to take sick leave, the health system can still be resourced properly.
The full results of the survey will be released in the New Year.
Read more about the issue in the Herald Sun (a subscription is required).