In Nevada hospitals, any patient may be seen by a resident physician. A medical malpractice attorney in Nevada knows that these young doctors regularly work long shifts, handle several patients at once and are exposed to a multitude of illnesses. Therefore, it is not surprising that these medical professionals will fall ill themselves. A recent investigation by News 4, however, brings a worrying factor to light. The station has received information that alleges a sick leave policy in hospitals in Reno encourages residents to report to work, even when they feel that sleep deprivation or illness makes it unsafe.
Potential medical error risks
The internal medicine residents affected by the potentially dangerous policy perform duties at Renown Regional Medical Center, as well as the local V.A. hospital. According to information provided by residents at these facilities, an extra shift is imposed on those who take an earned sick day. These hours are sometimes added to an already stressful and demanding schedule and pose risks to patients. No one should go to work with an illness that is contagious, but it is particularly important for health care professionals to be well. Patients often have weakened immune systems and are more vulnerable than those in the general public. A medical malpractice attorney in Nevada may express concern about the dangers posed when residents attempt to perform job duties while sick. According to WebMD, sleep is critical for brain processes such as alertness, concentration and problem solving. Doctors need to be able to pay full attention to all health care related tasks to prevent serious injuries or fatalities from medical mistakes. A data entry error on a patient record or a misdiagnosis can create a delay in treatment that leads to prolonged illness and even death.
Programs create scheduling difficulties
The investigative team from News 4 also spoke to a representative for the University of Nevada residency program, who claimed to be unaware of any risks to patients caused by the current sick leave policy. He acknowledged that scheduling the rotations is a difficult task, but that repayment of the sick days are usually added to a non-essential rotation, which is typically a 35 to 45 hour work week. The program follows the guidelines of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. According to the accreditation guidelines, residents’ weekly hours are averaged using the monthly total, and only 80 hours are allowed each week. At least one day off per week is required, which is also averaged monthly. Hospital residents have extremely demanding schedules that may limit their abilities to function at full capacity. When residents make medical errors, victims have a right to compensation for the harm caused. A medical malpractice attorney in Nevada may be able to help hold responsible parties accountable for financial, physical and emotional damages.