Correlation of Call Burden and Sleep Deprivation with Physician Burnout, Driving Crashes, and Medical Errors among US Neurointerventionalists

AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2022 Sep;43(9):1286-1291. doi: 10.3174/ajnr.A7606. Epub 2022 Aug 25.


Background and purpose: High call frequency can lead to inadequate sleep, fatigue, and burnout, resulting in detrimental effects on physicians and patients. We aimed to assess the correlation between the frequency and burden of neurointerventional surgery calls and sleep deprivation with physician burnout, physical and driving safety, and fatigue-related medical errors.

Materials and methods: We sent an online questionnaire to the members of the 2 neurointerventional surgery societies comprising 50 questions and spanning 3 main topics: 1) overnight/weekend call burden, 2) sleeping patterns, and 3) Copenhagen Burnout Inventory.

Results: One hundred sixty-four surveys were completed. Most (54%) neurointerventional surgeons reported burnout. Call burden of ≥1 every 3 days and being in practice >10 years were independent predictors of burnout. Thirty-nine percent reported falling asleep at the wheel, 23% reported a motor vehicle crash/near-crash, and 34% reported medical errors they considered related to call/work fatigue. On multivariate logistic regression, high call burden (called-in >3 times/week) was an independent predictor of sleeping at the wheel and motor vehicle crashes. Reporting <4 hours of uninterrupted sleep was an independent predictor of motor vehicle crashes and medical errors. Most neurointerventional surgeons recommended a maximum call frequency of once every 3 days.

Conclusions: Call frequency and burden, number of years in practice, and sleep deprivation are associated with burnout of neurointerventional surgeons, sleeping at the wheel, motor vehicle crashes, and fatigue-related medical errors. These findings contribute to the increasing literature on physician burnout and may guide future societal recommendations related to call burden in neurointerventional surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic
  • Burnout, Professional* / epidemiology
  • Fatigue / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Medical Errors
  • Physicians*
  • Sleep Deprivation / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires