| Analgesics

↓Sleep = ↓Empathy = ↓Meds

Subjective Patient Pain

If you’re a patient in pain, and your doctor is sleep deprived, you may be underprescribed analgesics. According to researchers publishing their findings in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), practitioner empathy is more than a small part of prescribing. Studying systematic bias in pain management, the researchers explored empathy for pain assessment tasks and medical decision making, whether the practitioner had worked a night or day shift. Reduced empathy was seen in physicians following a night shift. After analyzing “three emergency department datasets from Israel and the United States that included discharge notes of patients arriving with pain complaints during 2013 to 2020 (n = 13,482)" researchers determined that, "Across all datasets, physicians were less likely to prescribe an analgesic during night shifts (compared to daytime shifts) and prescribed fewer analgesics than generally recommended by the World Health Organization.”

Study coauthor David Gozal, MD, the Marie M. and Harry L. Smith Endowed Chair of Child Health at the Missouri University School of Medicine, stated, “The fact that the divergence of analgesic prescription from the general World Health Organization guidelines is greater during night shifts suggests that there is indeed an under-prescription during night shifts, rather than an over-prescription during daytime. These results highlight the need to address this bias by developing and implementing more structured pain management guidelines and by educating physicians about this bias.”


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Holly Caster