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Chicago Medical Malpractice Attorneys > Blog > Medical Malpractice > Can Daylight Savings Time Cause Medical Errors?

Can Daylight Savings Time Cause Medical Errors?

A recent study by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (JCSM) has shown that the transition to Daylight Savings Time in the spring is linked to a higher severity of injuries in medical malpractice cases.

As you may know, Daylight Savings Time (DST) is the practice of shifting our clocks forward an hour in spring to extend the daylight in the evening. The shift is generally intended to help optimize energy usage and help us align our waking hours and the workday with natural light. While widely adopted globally, there has been a debate about the usefulness of DST, and questions about whether it causes more harm than it is worth. The practice of DST has been criticized for its potential impacts, as the body’s circadian rhythm is disrupted. This includes increased cardiovascular events, general drowsiness, car accidents, and collisions.

The recent study by JCSM suggests that another unforeseen negative impact of shifting to DST is an increase in the severity of medical mistakes in hospitals and medical facilities. The study analyzed the number and severity of malpractice cases in states that observed DST and compared them to those that didn’t, such as Hawaii, Arizona, and Indiana. The researchers noticed that the months during DST saw an increase in the severity of malpractice incidents. The findings were based on data collected over three decades, and a consistent pattern of malpractice severity was observed in DST months.

The study’s first author, a doctor of behavioral neuroscience and postdoctoral research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital, points out that the study’s design prevents a definite conclusion about DST directly causing medical malpractice incidents, but he notes that the data strongly suggest that DST influences healthcare outcomes.

“In addition to the acute shift to daylight saving time, it is possible that several months of living under daylight saving time leads to accrued circadian misalignment, which then could affect medical errors,” explains Dr. Gao. “Our work joins numerous other studies that document the detrimental effects of spring daylight saving time transitions, and the collective evidence should encourage stakeholders and policymakers to reevaluate daylight saving time for the well-being of the general public.”

What should I do if there is a mistake in my medical procedure during DST?

This study shows that a persistent factor in medical procedures, the human element, is fallible. Whatever your procedure, and whenever it occurs, it is crucial to remain vigilant about the possibility of a mistake and know your rights if a medical mistake should occur. Tiredness, disorganization, or any other condition associated with DST does not excuse the medical provider from responsibility if they make a mistake – and you have the right to pursue justice and compensation if negligence causes a medical error. If you suspect something went wrong during a medical procedure and that an error on the medical provider’s part impacted your life, you should contact a lawyer to assess your case and help you plan your next steps.

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