SINGAPORE: A doctor in Singapore took to Reddit to say that a doctor’s long working day is one of the biggest problems in the healthcare system and explained how this affects everyone.

In a thread on r/Singapore on March 29, u/TruePriest acknowledged that the healthcare system is difficult for everyone working in it, but for the post author, the “most absurd” aspect of the healthcare system is the long working hours, sometimes as many as 30 hours.

“Personally, this is the most ridiculous existing issue and requires urgent, if not immediate, change. The current system is outdated and disregards patient safety,” he wrote, adding that this issue “affects every Singaporean.”

“Anyone could end up seeking treatment in a public hospital. Imagine if your loved one was being operated on by a doctor who has not slept in 24 hours. This possibly occurs on a daily basis.”

He outlined a junior doctor’s working schedule between 6 and 6:30 am when they arrive at the hospital.

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Unlike nurses who work shifts, most doctors are subject to a “call system” for night duty. The exception is A&E doctors, who also follow shifts.

With the “call system,” a doctor works all day, is on call during the night shift, and then works again the next day.

u/TruePriest believes that such a system is outdated and that all doctors should work shifts instead.

Officially, doctors may leave at noon the day after being on call, but depending on their workload, they may stay until 2, 3, or 6 pm.

“If a doctor is scheduled for ‘call’ on 1st April; they will arrive at work about 6-6.30am on 1st April, work the whole day and night, then proceed to work the next morning as well.

Ideally they will leave by 12pm on 2nd April and will have some rest before reporting to work as usual at 6am on 3rd April (making it) a 30 hour shift.

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This means that every morning, you have doctors in SG with little to no sleep reviewing patients, ordering blood test and scans, prescribing meds. Isn’t this crazy?”

Some hospitals implement a schedule where doctors leave at 8 am after working the night before. This means they have a 26-hour workday, which would prevent errors as doctors would not work when they are sleep-deprived.

u/TruePriest wrote that 8 am dismissals after night duty “should be a MOH priority. 26 hour shifts still sound ridiculous but it is still a first step in the right direction.

Doctors should not be allowed to work continuously for >24 hours given the possible harm to patients,” adding, “In Singapore, you have doctors on 30-hour shifts examining, prescribing meds and even performing surgery on your loved ones.” /TISG

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