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Views And Reviews

Looking after ourselves at work: the importance of being hydrated and fed

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 06 February 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l528
  1. Peter A Brennan, consultant maxillofacial surgeon and honorary professor of surgery1,
  2. Rachel Oeppen, consultant radiologist2,
  3. John Knighton, critical care consultant and medical director3,
  4. Mike Davidson, pilot and union representative4
  1. 1Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, UK
  2. 2University Hospitals, Southampton, UK
  3. 3Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, UK
  4. 4British Airline Pilots Association
  1. peter.brennan{at}

Hospitals should remove any barriers to doctors eating and drinking during the working day

As healthcare providers, it’s easy to forget to look after ourselves at work. We know that taking breaks and eating and drinking regularly is a critical component of being “optimised,” helping to sustain our energy, concentration, and performance, and reduce the risk of human error. Yet, for many, the realities of working in busy, modern hospitals get in the way.

Medicine is a demanding profession, with days often starting early and finishing late, and many fall into the habit of forgetting to take regular breaks, not drinking enough fluids, or missing meals. If we want to improve staff wellbeing and reduce the risk of errors, we need to change this.

Despite its importance, little has been written about the role of hydration in optimising performance in healthcare. We know that even small deficits of water in the body impede physical performance and lead to worsening dehydration, causing …

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