Effects of On-Call Shifts on Physicians' Cognitive Performance, Level of Alertness, Mood, and Safety: A Review Article

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Siraj O. Wali https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5825-5642


On-call, Sleep deprivation, Alertness, Performance, Mood, Safety


A hospital physician's work demands high cognitive performance, quick judgment, prompt and flawless decision making, a high concentration level, and fine motor skills. However, physicians frequently experience periods of acute sleep deprivation due to the extended on-call shift lengths. This may affect cognitive functions, alertness, and mood; therefore, the overall performance. This article will review the effects of long shifts (on-call hours) and the result of sleep deprivation on physician affecting their general performance and safety, as well as the implications of such effects on patient care. Recommendations and suggestions proposals will be presented for consideration by the training boards, the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties, to improve physicians' performance and assure patients' safety without jeopardizing the trainees' postgraduate education.

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