Monday, March 28, 2011

Patients & Doctors Both Need Sleep

Sleep is needed for rejuvenation and strengthening of the body and spirit.  People who get inadequate sleep are at risk for diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, depression and anxiety.  Further, people who receive inadequate sleep have reduced body function and decreased decision making ability.  Medical research has established the great need for sleep.  Yet people in the healthcare field, specifically physicians and nurses, are caring for patients in the hospital after receiving no sleep or less than 6 hours sleep.  These healthcare professionals view the lack of sleep as a badge of honor.  However, many mistakes are made due to the sleep deprivation.

Some physicians are starting to realize the need for an ethical code that requires disclosure to patients of substantial sleep loss before administering care and performing procedures on patients.  This is a small minority, but hopefully the movement will grow.  Meanwhile, it is your right as a patient or the advocate of a loved one, to inquire about the physician's sleep schedule.  Airline pilots and truck drivers are restricted from working long schedules that interfere with sleep.  People who treat humans for health needs should do the same.

Stay healthy & well,

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