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Report: Long hours contributing to overprescription

We have all had those long work days when we are tired and anxious to be done. Working long hours can be physically and emotionally taxing on any person, and this can make it difficult to stay focused and make appropriate decisions. This can result in some sloppy mistakes and an inability to think clearly. 

Many people can easily fix a mistake or tend to an issue after they have gotten some rest, and any consequences of slip-up can be minimal. However, if it is a doctor who is careless or loses focus because of fatigue, the consequences can be devastating. In fact, a recent report suggests that patients are at a higher risk of being wrongly prescribed medication if their doctor is tired and at the end of his or her shift.

The study was released by researchers who spend 17 months looking at 21,000 cases of one condition in particular: adult acute respiratory infection. This condition is mostly caused by a virus, but it was reported that many doctors were prescribing antibiotics to these patients, even though they would be ineffective and potentially even harmful.

Antibiotics are prescribed routinely to treat conditions caused by bacteria. However, it is well known that overuse of antibiotics could negatively impact a patient's health and make them more susceptible to serious complications.

However, the study revealed that doctors were about 25 percent more likely to prescribe antibiotics to patients with acute respiratory infections toward the end of their shifts. Researchers believe that fatigue and being overworked negatively affects a doctor's ability to focus and make appropriate care decisions, including what medications to prescribe. 

The information collected in this study and others like it provides critical insight into when patients can be most vulnerable to medical errors. These studies also illustrate just how easily a mistake can be made. 

Any medical mistake has the potential to cause serious problems for patients across Georgia, including a medication error. It can be crucial to investigate what happened in order to determine whether there may be grounds to file a legal claim against a negligent or reckless party. 

Source: Tech Times, "Tired doctors tend to overprescribe: Physicians are human, but their mistakes cost," Rebecca Kaplan, Oct. 7, 2014

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