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Wednesday Jun 29 2022
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Web Desk

Tired doctors display far less empathy for patients, study shows

By
Web Desk
Liat Ashkenazi-Hoffnung, who heads the post-coronavirus disease (COVID-19) clinic at Schneider Childrens Medical Center of Israel, speaks with the mother of Noa, a 10-year-old Israeli girl suffering from Long Covid, in Petah Tikva, Israel December 6, 2021. — Reuters/File
Liat Ashkenazi-Hoffnung, who heads the post-coronavirus disease (COVID-19) clinic at Schneider Children's Medical Center of Israel, speaks with the mother of Noa, a 10-year-old Israeli girl suffering from Long Covid, in Petah Tikva, Israel December 6, 2021. — Reuters/File

A new study by the researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia reveals that doctors lacking sleep are more likely to disregard patients’ pain than their well-slept colleagues.

According to StudyFinds, researchers assessed 31 physicians in Israel and 36 physicians completing their 26-hour work shifts. 

All participants had to prescribe pain medications to two different patients: a female patient with a headache and a male patient with a backache.

Following the study, researchers concluded that the physicians feeling mentally and physically exhausted showed less empathy for the patients than the well-rested physicians.

To confirm their findings, the researchers also examined more than 13,000 electronic medical records (EMR) discharge notes involving patients arriving with pain complaints at hospitals across Israel and America, according to a university release.

The analysis found that the physicians’ tendency to prescribe analgesics (pain killers) to patients with severe pain during the night shift was 11% lower in Israel and 9% lower in the US.

“Pain management is a major challenge, and a doctor’s perception of a patient’s subjective pain is susceptible to bias,” said co-author David Gozal, MD, the Marie M and Harry L Smith Endowed Chair of Child Health at the MU School of Medicine.

“This study demonstrated that night shift work is an important and previously unrecognised source of bias in pain management, likely stemming from impaired perception of pain.”