Monday, January 05, 2009
Doug, a new neighbor of ours down the street is doing his residency at UK Medical Center and is planning on being an anesthesiologist. He and his young wife moved here back in the summer from Georgia. He needed to borrow a ladder. We were talking on our front porch and when I asked him how things were going at the hospital, he said he worked 105 hours the week before Christmas. That's an average of 15 hours per day for 7 days although he mentioned he put in 19 hours 1 day. He said it's not uncommon for him to put in ridiculous hours and that he doesn't see it improving because of the crunch the economy is putting on the medical community. I had to ask myself: "How safe is that?" I know pilots are limited as far as how many hours they can work in a week and even truck drivers are limited too. But apparently, medical professionals responsible for taking care of people, don't have limitations. I can only imagine how mentally exhausted you would be at the end of a 105 hour work week. My orthopedic surgeon I saw when I was in high school had a nickname of "Midnight Sam." He performed surgery during the day and his office hours were from 5pm - 10pm. He made his rounds in the wee hours of the morning. I can remember him waking me up many times when I was in the hospital around midnight to check on me. Sure doesn't seem safe to me. I have trouble operating the TV remote when I'm sleep deprived, I can't imagine having to make life & death decisions in that condition. BTW - Doug brought the ladder back a couple of hours later; a sign of a good neighbor.