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New Study Suggests Patient Sleep Deprivation Increases Likelihood of Medical Malpractice Claims

Not all patients who suffer injuries caused by medical negligence end up filing medical malpractice lawsuits. In fact, only a small percentage of medical malpractice victims actually file a claim. What leads some patients to file medical malpractice claims and others to avoid lawsuits? According to a recent study that will soon appear in the peer-reviewed medical journal JAMA Surgery, patients who suffer from sleep deprivation may be more likely to file medical malpractice lawsuits than patients who are getting more sleep.

Sleep-Deprived Patients and Medical Malpractice Claims

To be clear, the potential link between sleep-deprivation and medical malpractice claims studied here is not the link you might assume: the authors of the study were not examining how a healthcare provider’s sleep-deprivation could lead her to make a medical mistake, but rather how a patient’s sleep-deprivation could affect her decision about whether or not to file a lawsuit.

Anytime a patient suffers a significant injury in the hospital because of a healthcare provider’s mistake or negligence, it is important for the patient to hold the healthcare provider accountable. One way to ensure that the doctor, nurse, or other medical professional is held accountable is by filing a medical malpractice claim. However, the recent study intimates that a patient’s sleep levels may have a greater impact on their decision to file a claim than substantive issues related to the negligence itself.

Why Does Lack of Sleep Increase a Patient’s Likelihood of Filing a Lawsuit

The team of researchers, located at Rice University and Baylor University, were interested in patients’ emotional and psychological states in the hospital, and how sleep deprivation ultimately may play a key role in a patient’s decision to file a claim. The researchers emphasized that this line of inquiry is an important one because “patients are often sleep-deprived” in hospitals given that “medical personnel frequently awaken hospital patients to administer medications, conduct tests, and perform other necessary treatment.”

In a wide variety of medical error cases—from improperly administered anesthesia to surgical errors involving leaving a foreign body inside a patient—patients with less sleep were more likely to file a claim. The researchers suggested that this likelihood of filing a claim and insisting on maximum punishment and compensation also may be tied to mood, given that those same patients “also exhibited more mood disturbance, lapses of attentive, and subjective sleepiness.”

While the study provides an interesting lens into patient psychology and what may lead to medical malpractice claims, it does not address the underlying issue of medical negligence and the need for fewer preventable medical mistakes in the hospital setting.

Contact a West Palm Beach Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you or someone you love recently suffered injuries as a result of a medical mistake or a healthcare provider’s negligence, it is important to speak with a West Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyer to learn more about filing a claim for compensation. Contact Lesser Lesser Landy & Smith PLLC to learn more about how we can help with your medical negligence claim.




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