Fillers A memorable patient

Sleep deprivation

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 10 August 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:318
  1. Ruth Booker, retired general practitioner
  1. Twickenham

    The effects of sleep deprivation are well known. For junior hospital doctors, they are not only well known but frequently experienced, and crossing the divide between knowledge and experience can be an astonishing journey.

    The casualty department in the hospital where I was a young house physician many years ago had no casualty officer overnight and was covered by the house physicians and surgeons in rotation. The hospital served an area where flats and “bedsitters” accommodated large numbers of young people, many of whom were deeply unhappy and confused about life. On average three patients who had taken drug overdoses were seen in casualty each day, and we junior doctors were all too familiar with “the pump,” as the stomach washout apparatus was known.

    It was about 5 am on a Monday morning, and I had …

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