Differential Impact of Work Overload on Physicians' Attention: A Comparison between Residential Fields

Talya Dolev, Salman Zubedat, Iris Manor, Boaz Bloch, Orna Blondheim, Avi Avital

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives Medical errors cause tens of thousands of deaths annually and have a major impact on quality of care and management; however, it receives scant research and public awareness. This study aimed to examine the relation between workload-induced lack of sleep and attention failure, as indications for medical errors risk, among young residents. Methods We performed an evaluation of young physicians by the Test of Variables of Attention, before and after a 24-hour shift. Results Workload was manifested by 13% overall attention impairment at baseline, which increased to 34% with deficiencies below the normal range after the shift. Attention measures differed between physicians of each residential field at baseline, but to greater extent after the shift. Conclusions Traditional working schedule is strongly associated with attention failure. Based on the literature linking attention failures to medical errors, we suggest a regulatory change regarding residents' shift duration to decrease preventable errors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E971-E978
JournalJournal of Patient Safety
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Test of Variables of Attention
  • medical error
  • sleep deprivation
  • vigilance
  • work overload

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Leadership and Management


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