Fatigue & Performance

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Physician Health & Safety:  Fatigue & Performance



Physical signs and symptoms of fatigue

• Excessive Tiredness

• Sleepiness, including falling asleep against the

individual’s will (micro sleeps)

• Irritability

• Depression

• Giddiness

• Loss of appetite

• Digestive problems

• An increased susceptibility to illness


Performance impairments

• Slowed reactions – physical reaction speed and speed of thought

• Failure to respond to stimuli, changes in the surroundings, information provided

• Incorrect actions either physical or mental

• Flawed logic and judgment and an inability to concentrate

• Increases in memory errors, including forgetfulness

• Decrease in vigilance

• Reduced motivation

• Increased tendency for risk-taking


Resources for Residents:

1)                  Program Director/Associate Program Director/Faculty

2)                  Family Physician

3)                  Physician Wellbeing Committee

4)                  Human Resources Physician Support


SUMMARY:  Assuming a strict application of the 80-hour work rules, if a resident is still suffering from signs and symptoms of fatigue, it is important that the individual seek help for available sources for his/her own safety, and the safety of patients and colleagues.  Any faculty members observing signs and symptoms of fatigue in any resident also has a responsibility to discuss this with the individual.