National Scandal Involving Interns at Virtually Every Teaching Hospital
Here is a national scandal on
medical malpractice in every teaching hospital in America!
In the 1960s Frank Lynch was consulting to the Pentagon on advanced weapons systems and also on methods of intelligence acquisition and evaluation. The effects of sleep deprivation were an important element, since in both combat and in undercover spying and espionage, our men would be frequently exposed to long periods without sleep. At that time, more than forty years ago, there was already abundant existing research scientifically proving beyond any doubt that sleep deprivation significantly degrades mental function, human performance in every respect, short term memory, and the conversion of short term to long term memory.
The military did not like these facts, and many commanders reacted as badly as today's medical school administrators and directors of teaching hospitals.
But the facts cannot be ignored. If lives depend on a person, that person must not and cannot be sleep deprived. If you want a person to learn from his actions, that person cannot be sleep deprived. Period. Scientific fact. No argument is possible. But our medical profession ignores these scientific facts and degrades the ability of our interns to learn, and thereby degrades the qualities of the doctors in the medical profession.
And mistakes by interns caused by sleep deprivation kill tens of thousands of patients every year. This has to be part of our national reform campaigns.
It is been common knowledge among researchers for more than half a century that sleep deprivation degrades human performance and brain function. Numerous studies have proven that a single all-nighter degrades brain function by the same amount as three to four bottles of beer. Longer periods of sleep deprivation further degrade brain functioning. And so called cat-naps are only effective at keeping the person awake. Cat-naps do almost nothing to restore brain function.
These effects are not theories, they are widely proven by multiple, replicated and verified scientific studies.
Yet the Boards of Directors of all the medical schools in America, and the Boards of Directors of all the teaching hospitals in America ignore this proven knowledge. They do so out of greed.
The heads of America's teaching hospitals do this despite multiple studies, which have been circulated to all the teaching hospitals, showing that interns working double shifts make three to five times as many mistakes as interns who have had eight hours of sleep.
The scientific, replicable studies prove that interns who work 24 hour shifts make substantially more than five times as many mistakes. Keep this in perspective. Interns are students, and students make mistakes under the best of conditions. When you multiply those mistakes by five, it is not good for the patients. In science, we call that 'understatement.'
In every teaching hospital and medical school in America interns frequently work from 12 to 36 hours continuously. Research has proven over and over again that 36 hours without sleep is substantially the same as having just consumed a six pack of beer in one hour.
So if you are or have been a patient in a teaching hospital, it is not unlikely that you have been treated by a doctor, who for all scientific and practical purposes, was the equivalent of drunk!
For the poor intern, sleep deprivation research has proven that sleep deprivation, depending on the length of the deprivation:
(a) reduces short term memory by 25% to 80%. Let us be clear. Deprivation reduces the ability of interns to remember what they did three minutes ago by 25% to 80%. Do you want such a person responsible for your health? How can an intern learn if he cannot remember three minutes ago?
(b) reduces the ability of the brain to convert short term memory to long term memory by 30% to 90%. Let us be clear. Sleep deprivation reduces the ability of the intern to remember today what he did, or what he learned two days ago by 30% to 90%. Parents who want their children to become doctors: do you want your child to stay awake mistreating patients for a day and a half and not even be able to learn half of what he was supposed to learn because he was exhausted?
In fact, many hospitals pay for taxi fare home for interns who have worked for 24 hours straight. Do they pay out of the goodness of their heart? A hospital! They do it because hospitals were being sued and losing the lawsuits when over-tired interns fell asleep at the wheel while driving home and killed people in traffic accidents caused by the long shifts. These hospitals are aware that interns fall asleep while working 24 hours, but estimate that the hospitals won't get sued by the patients killed inside the hospital by these over-tired interns. Does that mean the hospital doesn't care if their overworked intern kills you inside the hospital, but cares if he kills you on the road? As they say, the greatest medical system in the world. Until you get sick.
Another way to look at it is the hospital Directors think an intern who has worked for 24 hours is too drunk to drive, but not too drunk to work on you.
Even worse, if that is possible, the years of abuse of the medical students/interns by these stupid, senseless marathons of sleep deprivation is used by the senior doctors as the equivalent of fraternity hazing. These morons actually believe that it makes them better persons in some indefinable sense. They think that if they were able to survive this abuse, even if some of their patients did not, that they are now SUPERIOR. When actually it means they and their teachers are dumber.
Accordingly, this destructive and harmful sleep deprivation contributes to the alienation of doctors from the general population and from society at large. It also contributes to the intolerable attitude displayed by certain doctors towards their patients.
Our medical school and teaching hospital will strictly limit interns to eight hour shifts with a full sixteen hours off between every shift. This is both for the safety of the patients, and to maximize the ability of our interns to remember what they were supposed to learn.
Further, our interns will be monitored and tested to ensure that they get eight to nine hours of sleep each and every night, because replicated research has proven that this amount of sleep results in maximum learning retention and maximum mental performance.
Research has proven the maximum conversion of short term memory to long term memory occurs during the first two hours of sleep, and during the last two hours of sleep. And that the most conversion takes place if there is no interruption of the sleep.
Cat-naps have no beneficial effect on mental performance, short term memory, or the conversion of short term to long term memory. All cat-naps do is help prevent the interns from falling down while walking. And that cat-nap is a disservice to patients, who would be better off if an intern who is that tired were to fall down and not get to the patient.
Our interns and staff will also be randomly tested for drug and stimulant abuse for the same reasons given above. Did you know that doctors are more than eight times more likely than you and I to have problems with drug abuse?