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:
Copyright © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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