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Afternoon slump affects doctors and nurses

If possible, South Carolina residents may want to avoid going to the hospital in the afternoon. The main reason is that doctors and nurses, like everyone else, often experience an afternoon slump. This is the sleepy feeling that develops around 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. The result is that doctors and nurses tend to be less focused and less productive.

In addition, mistakes on the part of anesthesiologists are more common. A Duke University study referred specifically to "afternoon circadian lows" as the cause behind this trend. It's also important for patients to remember that shift changes often occur in the afternoon. This means that one's surgery is liable to be started by one team and finished by another. If the first team forgets to communicate vital information to the next, there can be serious consequences.

A study in JAMA Internal Medicine gives yet another reason for avoiding clinics in the late afternoon. As the day goes on, doctors are more likely to prescribe antibiotics, even when they are unnecessary. Furthermore, doctors are less capable of detecting cancer-related polyps in the afternoon.

When fatigue or burnout are behind a medical mistake, victims can consult with legal counsel to see if they are eligible for compensation. It must be proven, however, that the doctor failed to live up to an objective standard of care -- in other words, negligence. Another requirement for a valid claim is a preexisting doctor-patient relationship. In the effort to build up the case, a lawyer could request an inquiry with the local medical board. The attorney can then negotiate for a settlement.

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  • South Carolina Association for Justice
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