Lack of sleep tied to physician burnout, medical errors

Lifestyle

Sleep-related impairment among physicians is associated with increased burnout, decreased professional fulfillment, and increased self-reported clinically significant medical error, according to a study published online Dec. 7 in JAMA Network Open.

Mickey T. Trockel, M.D., Ph.D., from the Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, California, and colleagues evaluated associations between sleep-related impairment, clinically significant medical errors, and occupational wellness indicators in physicians practicing at academic-affiliated medical centers. The analysis included responses from physician wellness surveys collected from 11 academic-affiliated medical centers between November 2016 and October 2018 (7,700 attending physicians and 3,695 house staff physicians).

The researchers found that sleep-related impairment had large correlations with interpersonal disengagement, work exhaustion, and overall burnout. There were moderate correlations noted between sleep-related impairment and professional fulfillment. When adjusting for gender, training status, medical specialty, and burnout level, moderate, high, and very high levels were associated with increased odds of self-reported clinically significant medical error (odds ratios, 1.53, 1.96, and 1.97, respectively) compared with low sleep-related impairment levels.

“Interventions to mitigate sleep-related impairment in physicians are warranted,” the authors write.