Fatigue in doctors
Fatigue is a huge problem for doctors at all levels. If you have suffered from fatigue, you will have experienced an acute, ongoing state of tiredness. It can lead to mental or physical exhaustion and prevent you from functioning within normal boundaries.
Why is fatigue in doctors a huge concern?
Fatigue is a hazard that can affect all health professionals. It is a danger to both the safe provision of high quality care to the patient, and also to the health and wellbeing of the doctor. Fatigue management in doctors is the responsibility of the individual practitioner and also of the system they work in.
GPRA fatigue management discussion paper
Fatigue and sleep deprivation are recognised workplace hazards. A GPRA subcommittee worked in conjunction with stakeholders to examine the problem of fatigue in doctors. They used their findings to produce a statement of principals and a discussion paper. This paper draws from a number of sources to suggest methods of addressing fatigue within general practice.
As a general practitioner, or registrar, fatigue is your enemy and you need to work out ways to manage it. The Australian Medical Association has a comprehensive library dealing with fatigue management. This includes self-assessment tools, guidelines and research.
The AMA has developed a more detailed tool that allows you to complete an online assessment of the fatigue risks of your roster. This tool is primarily aimed at doctors working within a hospital environment, but could also be used within a clinic.
AMA 2011 Safe Hours Audit report
AMA National Code Of Practice: Hours of Work, Shiftwork and Rostering for Hospital Doctors
AMA Managing the Risks of Fatigue in General Practice - For GPs and GP Registrars
Safe Work Australia
If you are concerned about fatigue management in doctors, you owe it to yourself and your patients to learn how to prevent it and to deal with it.