Report Suggests Sleep Deprivation Leads to Medical Malpractice Claims

When a person is sick or injured, sleep is a critical part of their recovery. And yet hospitals are often a difficult place to sleep. Between overnight medical procedures and the general hustle and bustle of hospital corridors, many patients don’t get as much sleep as they should. Researchers at Rice and Baylor Universities recently enlisted 44 healthy adults who regularly sleep seven or more hours per night to investigate how sleep deprivation affects the desire to call a medical malpractice lawyer and launch a medical error claim.

The researchers asked study participants to review eight medical errors scenarios, including a doctor failing to administer sufficient anesthesia and a surgeon leaving a medical instrument inside a patient. The participants then rated the errors on 10 factors, including surgeon competence, quality of care, error severity, recommended surgeon punishment, and recommended patient compensation, according to a Rice University release.

After completing the survey, half the participants were told to continue their regular sleep habits while the other half was told to restrict sleep to less than six hours. After four nights, the survey was repeated.

Unsurprisingly to any medical malpractice lawyer, the researchers found that participants who slept for less than six hours were four times more likely than their counterparts to push for maximum punishments for doctors and maximum compensation for injured patients. They were also more likely to experience mood issues, attention deficits, and fatigue.

“Health care professionals routinely acknowledge the importance of sleep for patient health, but most hospital environments are very poorly designed for sleep, with the noise, light and staff interruptions,” said Rice University graduate student Abby Corrington. “We hope our research will shed light on how sleep deprivation can affect mood and cognitive functioning and provide medical professionals with information to help promote patient health and reduce legal expenses.”

Personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers hope the study will push medical professionals to be more attentive of patient sleep patterns in the future, and perhaps inspire better design in new medical facilities. As a law firm that regularly represents seriously injured accident victims, Will Davidson LLP understands how challenging the recovery process can be, and how much small factors like sleep matter.

If you or a member of your family has been injured in a medical setting, contact Will Davidson LLP to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. Our experienced team will assess the viability of your medical malpractice claim and provide guidance and advice throughout your legal journey.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Dennis J. Henry Jr./Wikimedia Commons


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