Over the past few years, increasing attention has been paid to the role of physician fatigue in patient safety and quality of care. Though clinical data on the impact of fatigue remain limited, there is abundant laboratory evidence documenting that sleep deprivation impairs performance. Perhaps more important, common sense dictates that a physician anesthesiologist will perform better when well-rested.

In response to such concerns, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has taken a strong position on the role of fatigue during training, requiring that trainees work on average fewer than 80 hours per week and have sufficient “protected” sleep time. Several professional organizations have begun to address fatigue and its impact on clinical care. Most importantly, from the perspective of public trust, it is becoming increasingly hard to dismiss the significance of fatigue for the practice...

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