Data Quality and Medical Errors

Data Quality and Medical Errors

It may seem intuitive that shorter work shifts would be better for doctors and patients alike, but that may not be the case. Shorter shifts mean a larger number of handovers between doctors, and when a patient is handed over from one doctor to another, their information is also handed over. And each handover is a point where information can be miscommunicated or left out altogether.

“But it’s not lack of sleep alone that can lead to errors. Emerging research is pointing to patient handover – the critical process in which a doctor passes on information about a patient’s treatment to the incoming doctor – as another time when mistakes are likely to be made. It’s a discovery hospitals are only beginning to address. And attempts to shorten shifts have had unintended consequences, leading to residents working a greater number of shifts with less time to catch up on sleep – and increasing the number of handovers, says a report published Tuesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.”

(Photo by Flickr user Seattle Municipal Archives, Creative Commons License)

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