Monday, August 14, 2006

The long wait

I know it's comming and there's nothing I can do about. There are two empty beds in the MICU and this can only mean one thing. I will not sleep tonight. There are comming. The Code Blue down the hall, the ER patient with urosepsis. All conspiring to seperate me from the necessity of sleep.
Only in medicine is it considered a badge of honor to go thirty something hours without sleep. Every other profession from piliots to the military accept that the human body has needs. That we are not mearly cogs in some great machine. Every one except medicine. And this is one of our greatest mistakes. There is nothing noble in what we do. Our patients are certainly not the better for it. Studies bear that out. Patients would be better treated by a drunk resident than one that has been up overnight. I've certainly made mistakes, and at any one time there is a least one patient here because of a medical mishap.
This notion of not sleeping is just a giant pissing contest that pre-dates modern medicine.
And yet it just won't go away. After high profile deaths efforts are always made to limit hours, to bring some semblence of normalcy to a residents life. And each time it is met with resistence from our attendings, our peers, sometimes ourselves.
So here I am tonight, sleepy as all hell, but not sleeping. Because I know as soon as my head hits the pillow I will get my new admit. So I wait for them to come.
Maybe then I can get some sleep.


Dr. Rob Oliver said...

Thanks for posting on my blog BTW.

In re. to your post. I did my surgery residency (late 90's early 00's)in the last few years prior to the work rules & had the "privledge" of several years worth of numerous every other night in-house call services. While I thrived in that system, I would not wish it on anyone. It is a numbing & dehumanizing way to exist.

Allie said...

It's amazing how long 'just' 80 hours can be. It is very catch 22 now. No one wants to compromise patient care, so they work over 80 hours, which technically compromises patient care. (I know very few people who just work their 80 hours)