Hours of work and fatigue-related error: a survey of New Zealand anaesthetists

Anaesth Intensive Care. 2000 Apr;28(2):178-83. doi: 10.1177/0310057X0002800209.


A nationwide survey (70% response) documented anaesthetists' hours of work, their perceptions about safety limits and their recollection of fatigue-related errors in clinical practice. In the preceding six months, 71% of trainees and 58% of specialists had exceeded their self-defined safety limits for continuous anaesthesia administration. For 50% of trainees and 27% of specialists, their average working week exceeded their own limits for maintaining patient safety, and for 63% of trainees and 40% of specialists, it exceeded their limits for maintaining their personal well-being. Fatigue-related errors were reported by 86% of respondents, with 32% recalling errors in the preceding six months. Specialists were more likely to report a fatigue-related error if they had exceeded their own safety limits for continuous anaesthesia administration, or for weekly work hours. Current measures are not preventing anaesthetists from working hours that they consider to be unsafe for patients or harmful to their own well-being.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesiology / statistics & numerical data*
  • Fatigue*
  • Humans
  • Medical Errors / statistics & numerical data*
  • New Zealand
  • Workload / statistics & numerical data*