Medicine and Fragility

This may not be the last time I post something about the fragility of the medical professional. I’m always astounded at how much “work” doctors end up doing just to keep their business running. I’m still learning a little here and there, but in the end, I’ve always noticed that they are performing work in unhealthy ways (i.e. too many hours, too many patients, too much paperwork, etc.).

Marcus Hammarberg brought this up briefly in his LKNA talk which I mentioned in a previous post. The administrator at the hospital he volunteered to work at had no real method of queueing work until he intervened. “Yes” is a common problem in a number of professional environments that have a perception of unlimited capacity when it comes to people’s time.

The idea that there are no limits to an individuals capacity is kind of ridiculous, so let’s say that a person works 80 hours a week. How is that sensible? If you worked 16 hours a day for 5 days straight, then you’d be working that 80 hour a week schedule. OK, so let’s say you balance it out over 7 days. That would be about 11.5 hours a day. That’s 3.5 hours more than what I would recommend. Why does this matter? I think my health is a bit more important than meeting a certain concept of “work”. Further evidence can be found in medical journals like the American Journal of Epidemiology.

The impact of an 80 hour work week can also been seen in this post from the Humans of New York.