May 29, 2008

Hospitals add doctors to cover the night shift

For several years there has been a growing trend in healthcare to add "hospitalists" to their staff. These doctors do not see regular patients but are on duty at hospitals to address medical situations that arise that would otherwise mean calling in a patient's regular physician, or sending a patient off to a specialist. This has worked well but there has always been a gap in coverage overnight. Now, more and more hospitals are addressing that with a new breed of hospitalist, a "nocturnist." These doctors are on site, working a regular night shift, ready to respond and treat patients quickly, reducing the need to waken doctors on call , providing faster treatment, and making for fewer specialized (read as "expensive") interventions.

For all you nocturnists out there, working the night shift, welcome to shiftwork. (Tip: check out other posts on the National Shiftwork Information Center blog for fatigue countermeasures and other ways to better live a shiftwork lifestyle.)

The Wall Street Journal published an article on this growing trend as well. You can read their article "Hospitals Move to Reduce the Risk of Night Shift."

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