(Reuters Health)—Over a typical 24-hour shift, first year residents training in internal medicine spend just three hours on direct patient care and only 1.8 hours on education, a U.S. study suggests.
Most of their time—an average of 15.9 hours out of every 24-hour shift—is consumed instead by “indirect patient care,” primarily involving interactions with medical records and documentation, the study found.
“Even when interns were face-to-face with patients, much of it was spent multitasking—interacting with the electronic health records or coordinating care with other health care workers,” says lead study author Krisda Chaiyachati, MD, MPH, MSHP, of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia.
“Based on evidence and my own personal experiences, multitasking makes it difficult to complete any of these individual tasks well,” Dr. Chaiyachati says by email. “When doctors are multitasking, at minimum, we are creating inefficiencies in how we manage sick patients, and, hopefully, we are not creating mistakes that lead to harm.”