Date
18 October 2017
Four in 10 public hospital doctors have committed medical blunders at least once when working more than 65 hours a week, according to a survey. Photo: Reuters
Four in 10 public hospital doctors have committed medical blunders at least once when working more than 65 hours a week, according to a survey. Photo: Reuters

Survey raises red flag over sleep-deprived doctors

Doctors in Hong Kong’s public hospitals work up to 65 hours a week and routinely put in overtime.

They average 48.5 hours and up to 61 hours counting overnight waiting times, Ming Pao Daily reports, citing an online survey by the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) medical faculty.

The survey, which polled 599 doctors from 2012 to 2013, found that nearly four in 10 made medical errors or malpractice at least once when working more than 65 hours a week.

More than one in 10 said they dozed off during a surgery.

About one in five had no such experiences when working less than 50 hours a week.

Wing Yun-kwok, a CUHK psychiatry professor, said lack of sleep for doctors has similar effects to intoxication for an ordinary person.

It slows the reaction time and attention span by at least 10 percent, increasing the likelihood of accidents and mistakes, he said.

Legislator Leung Ka-lau, who commissioned the study, is calling for legislation to cut doctors’ working hours to no more than 50 hours a week.

Also, he is proposing subsidies for overtime work.

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