This Viral Response to a Photo of a Sleeping Doctor Reveals a Big Problem

A viral hashtag is making a resurgence to highlight the importance of sleep for doctors and medical workers.

A blogger made a critical post in 2015 (which has since been removed) about a sleeping medical student in Monterrey, Mexico, and it started a discussion about doctors and lack of sleep.
"We are aware that this is a tiring job but doctors are obliged to do their work," the blogger who posted images of the sleeping student reportedly wrote. "There are dozens of patients in need of attention."

After hearing about the post, Dr. Juan Carlos created the viral hashtag #YoTambienMeDormi or "I've also fallen asleep," on Twitter, according to the BBC.

Doctors from around the world used the hashtag to show support for the sleeping medical student, and, now, after a Facebook post by Bored Panda on Monday, the issue is receiving attention, again.

Twitter users from around the globe are still using the hashtag #YoTambienMeDormi to show how pervasive sleeping at work is for medical staff.

Doctors and medical workers in the U.S. have also been forced to squeeze in sleep when they can.


Doctors in many countries traditionally work long hours and a lack of sleep can have an affect on the medical care they're able to provide to others. It can even impact their own health. In March, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, a committee of hospital executives and health professionals, voted to extend the amount of hours first-year medical students can be scheduled to work. They can now work up to 28 hours. Previously, it was limited to 16 hours to cut down on mistakes related to sleep deprivation. This extension is expected to take effect on July 1.

"Study after study shows that sleep-deprived resident physicians are a danger to themselves, their patients and the public," Dr. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group, told NPR when the rule-change was proposed. "It's disheartening to see the ACGME cave to pressure from organized medicine and let their misguided wishes trump public health."

A 2009 study of surgeons found that the risk of complications goes up if a surgeon has slept less than six hours, and a national survey of 7,000 doctors found that 54 percent said they had at least one symptom of burnout in 2014, an increase from 2011 which was 49 percent.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls a lack of sleep for all Americans a "public health problem."

"Sleep is increasingly recognized as important to public health, with sleep insufficiency linked to motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational errors," according to the CDC's website. "Unintentionally falling asleep, nodding off while driving, and having difficulty performing daily tasks because of sleepiness all may contribute to these hazardous outcomes."

In 2015, Dr. Brian Goldman, a Canadian physician, wrote a piece for Quartz called, "It’s Time for Doctors to Admit That Our Lack of Sleep is Killing Patients," where he outlined the consequences of sleep deprivation and the medical culture that's encouraging it. He wrote that truck drivers and pilots have strict limits on the number of hours they're allowed to work.

"Doctors, on the other hand, don’t have mandatory restricted hours on call and at night. What they have instead are nicknames like 'Jack Bauer' — after the main character in the Fox TV show '24,'" he wrote. "'Jack Bauer' is British hospital slang for a physician who is awake and taking care of patients despite being up for more than 24 hours. That we invent slang for a sleep deprived colleague, rather than tackle the problem, is strong evidence that we doctors are so inured to its impact, we can’t even recognize it."

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