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Doctor errors may be more common in the afternoon

When people in Oklahoma are sick or injured, they should not have to worry about the quality of medical care they receive. However, studies show that, in many cases, health care outcomes can be worsened when people go to the hospital in the afternoon. There are a number of reasons for this phenomenon that can reflect the natural circadian rhythms of the body, but patients have a right to receive excellent care at any time of day. When they do not, the consequences can be devastating.

While people in all professions may be aware of the feeling of fatigue and exhaustion that often sets in around 3:00 p.m., the consequences can be much more concerning when a physician is involved. For example, studies show that anesthesiologists make more mistakes during procedures that begin in the mid-afternoon hours. In a review of 90,000 surgeries performed inside hospitals, anesthesiologists were only 1 percent likely to make a mistake during morning surgeries, but that risk increased to 4.2 percent by 4:00 p.m. As anesthesiologists deal with the delicate administration of powerful drugs, avoiding medical mistakes can be particularly important for patient health.

Even unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions are more likely to happen in the afternoon. While health care workers are some of the most ardent advocates against the overuse of these drugs for inappropriate illnesses, one study found that doctors are more likely to prescribe antibiotics at the end of the day than in earlier hours. Researchers noted that fatigue could be a cause of this.

Medical mistakes like surgical errors or misdiagnoses can have long-term, serious repercussions for affected patients. People may need life-long care or intensive follow-up procedures. A medical malpractice attorney can provide guidance to patients harmed by hospital negligence about the potential to seek compensation for their damages.