Heavy workloads given to residents and interns have been proven to affect work and cause medical negligence. What’s the answer for residents and interns?
There have been concerns as to whether the heavy workload given to residents and interns affects their work. Many cases have been reported of patients dying due to medical negligence. This negligence is caused by the residents and interns.
Changes have been made over the years in regards to how many hours interns and residents can work. What caused this change?
Many say it’s related to the death of New York patient Libby Zion.
Death of Libby Zion: Changing the Shifts of Healthcare Workers Forever
The Story of Libby Zion: Changing the Healthcare Industry Forever
Who is Libby Zion? She was an 18-year-old freshman at Bennington College. On the night of March 4, 1984, a little before midnight, she was rushed to the New York Hospital emergency room. Libby was suffering from severe pain. She also had a fever, flu-like symptoms and chills.
At around 2 a.m., Libby was admitted. The young woman was attended to by a junior resident and an intern.
Her attendees gave her mild medication to treat the fever. Libby grew more agitated. Her condition was reported to the intern twice. The intern did not check on her. She just ordered that she be given Demerol, which was an inappropriate drug to administer.
Libby’s intern also instructed that she be put in a straitjacket, and for her hands and legs to be tied.
The young patient calmed down for a little while. Her temperature even went down. But in time, her body temperature skyrocketed to 108 degrees.
Libby became wild. The intern was called again and ordered a cooling blanket. The patient died at 7:30. Her cause of death was cardiac collapse and respiratory arrest.
The Court on Libby’s Death
A grand jury assigned to this case did not hold the hospital or the two attendees liable for Libby’s death. Yet, there was evidence that the wrong medication was prescribed.
Recently, the jury made comments about patients being left in the hands of exhausted hospital staff. The jury noted that both attendees had already worked for 18 hours that day before Libby was brought into the hospital.
It demanded that the New York Department of Health come up with new laws. These laws are to set a limit as to how many hours hospital residents and interns are allowed to work.
Legislation Related to Intern & Resident Work Hours
Legislation has been passed to set limits on how long hospital interns and residents should work.
Some in California set working hours to be 80 hours a week. Others require them to work for only 12 hours in an emergency room. Or 16 hours in other parts of the hospital.
Heavy Workload on Residents and Interns
Residents and interns are known to have a lot of work on their plate. This work gets to them. Causing them to be sleep-deprived, stressed and depressed. And not to function well in other areas of their lives.
But older physicians say that this is the way. They also went through the same and were able to pull through and become good doctors.
The older physicians say that this workload on interns and residents is intended to shape them. Those that cannot deal with the pressure are not suited to be doctors.
They say that if the workload on them is reduced, the hospital will have a lot of work pending. Administrators will have to hire other people to pick up the slack, something most hospitals do not have in their budgets.
Alternative Solutions for Healthcare Workers
Seeing that hospitals will not willingly cut down on resident and intern working hours, people are turning to the government.
Advocates and patients feel that the key is to put the pressure on by enacting new laws. So, they turn to the government to make these laws and ensure that hospitals follow them.