7 Sep 2009

Tired doctors contribute to patient deaths, says union

9:51 pm on 7 September 2009

A group representing Queensland doctors says hospital patients have died because doctors are being forced to work up to 72 hours without a break.

More than 100 doctors responded anonymously to a survey in May and June, the ABC reports. The Salaried Doctors Queensland (SDQ) union survey found 88% have experienced dangerous levels of fatigue while working.

Almost 60% of respondents said they had made mistakes performing procedures while fatigued, and 80% admitted to mistakes in prescribing medications.

The union set up a website on Sunday night, deadtireddoctors.org, detailing doctors' experience of fatigue, to put pressure on the state government.

One public hospital doctor told of prescribing ten times the amount of morphine that the patient needed, while another had written in the wrong patients chart, the website said.

Opposition health spokesman Mark McArdle says he wants to know why the state government has rejected a proposal for 12-hour shifts, with a 10-hour continuous rest break between work.