27% of Participating Orthopedic Residents Impaired by Lack of Sleep at Harvard Hospitals

In a study of orthopedic residents at two of Harvard's hospitals, 27 percent said they were impaired by lack of sleep, according to a study in the May 21 issue of the Archives of Surgery and reported in MedPage Today.

The physicians-in-training said they average just over five hours of sleep daily during work weeks, according to Frank McCormick, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital. According to the report, the impairment reported by 27 percent of the orthopedic residents was "as severe as that expected from a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent," Dr. McCormick wrote.

He concluded that fatigue-related impairment was predicted to increase the risk of medical error by 22 percent, with the individual range reaching from 7 to 49 percent.

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