Safer hours for doctors and improved safety for patients

Dev A S Kevat, Peter A Cameron, Andrew R Davies, Chris P Landrigan and Shantha W Rajaratnam
Med J Aust 2014; 200 (7): . || doi: 10.5694/mja13.10412
Published online: 21 April 2014


  • An increasing weight of evidence is demonstrating that sleep deprivation and circadian rhythm disruption in doctors are associated with human error and harm to both patients and doctors.

  • The increasing junior doctor workforce entering the hospital system in Australia provides a rare opportunity for workplace and roster reforms.

  • There are cultural, educational and industrial challenges to reforming working hours.

  • Any changes should be evidence-based and monitored to ensure that training for junior doctors and patient care are not compromised.

  • Dev A S Kevat1,2
  • Peter A Cameron1
  • Andrew R Davies1
  • Chris P Landrigan3
  • Shantha W Rajaratnam1

  • 1 Monash University, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 2 Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Brisbane, QLD.
  • 3 Harvard University, Boston, Mass, USA.


Competing interests:

Chris Landrigan has received honoraria from the US Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR) for grand rounds presentations on handovers, sleep deprivation and patient safety at CIR member hospitals. Shantha Rajaratnam has had travel expenses for attendance at scientific conferences reimbursed by Vanda Pharmaceuticals; is Immediate Past President of the Australasian Sleep Association; has performed consultancy work for the National Transport Commission, EdanSafe, Philips Respironics and the Australian Workers Union; and his institution has received research grants from the ResMed Foundation, Cephalon, Philips Respironics, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, and Vanda Pharmaceuticals. No grants were made for research or writing of this article.


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