Hospital visits more dangerous in the afternoon

Georgia residents likely hope they never have to go to the hospital. However, if such a trip is necessary, some experts say it's best to avoid going in the afternoon.

First of all, afternoon admittees are more likely to encounter fatigued hospital staff. Like everyone else, doctors and nurses tend to suffer a circadian slump between 2 and 4 p.m. While a tired office worker may only misfile a document or commit some typos, a tired doctor could make a dangerous medical mistake. For example, a Duke University study found that anesthesiologists had a 4.2 percent risk of making a mistake at 4 p.m., compared to a 0.3 percent risk at 8 a.m. Second, afternoon patients may encounter a shift change in the middle of treatment, which could also increase the chances of a medical error.

Meanwhile, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that doctors are more likely to prescribe unnecessary antibiotics in the afternoon. Again, this was attributed to fatigue. Another study found that doctors are worse at detecting cancer in the afternoon. In fact, the study found that a doctor's ability to detect colon cancer polyps decreased by 5 percent per hour of his or her shift. A 2015 study of 4,000 health care practitioners found that they were 38 percent less likely to wash their hands in the afternoon.

Medical mistakes are a top cause of injuries and deaths in the U.S. However, victims of medical errors may be able to recover their losses by filing a medical malpractice claim against the responsible parties. An attorney could carefully evaluate a victim's case and determine the best course of action.

Source: Reader's Digest, "6 Scary Reasons You Should Never Go to a Hospital in the Afternoon", Juliana LaBianca, Aug. 7, 2018

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