Published May 2016

References
  1. AMA - Managing the Risks of Fatigue in General Practice - For GPs and GP Registrars 2008 View Link
Are you at risk of fatigue?

The AMA has produced a Fatigue risk checklist to help doctors monitor their risk of fatigue based on their work routine over the previous 7 days┬╣.

Lower Risk Significant Risk Higher Risk
Less than 50 hours worked 50 to 70 hours worked More than 70 hours worked
No more than 10 consecutive hours in any one period Up to 14 consecutive hours in any one period 14 or more consecutive hours worked at least twice
3 or more short breaks taken during daily working hours 1 or 2 short breaks during daily working hours No short breaks during daily working hours
Little or no unscheduled extra work More than 10 hours extra unscheduled work More than 20 hours unscheduled extra work
Scheduled on call for less than 3 days in 7 days Scheduled on call for 3 days or more in a 7 day period Scheduled on call continuously for more than a 7 day period
No night work At least 2 nights of work or extended hours into the night At least 3 nights of work or extened hours into the night
Minimum 10 hour breaks between work periods and 2 days free of work Minimum 10 hour breaks between work periods and one day free of work Less than minimum 10 hours break on at least two work periods and no full day free of work
No changes to work schedule without notice Changes to work schedule through additional hours and call outs worked Work schedule changed so much because of additional hours and call outs so as to become unpredictable
Maximum opportunity for sleep to be taken at night, including 2 full nights of sleep About two-thirds of sleep able to be taken at night including 1 full night of sleep Less than half of sleep able to be taken at night and no opportunity for 1 full night of sleep

The impact of fatigue is serious and it has been linked with higher risks of medical error. Performance impairment following 18 hours of sustained wakefulness is similar to having a blood alcohol reading of greater than 0.05%.

If you are at risk of fatigue, we encourage you to consider making changes to your work schedule.

Tips for designing your work schedule

In designing your work schedule, you should try to:

  • Minimise the occasions where you are required to work more than 10 hours in a shift
  • Ensure that you can get a minimum of 8 hours sleep between the end of one shift and starting work again
  • Ensure that any period of extended hours is compensated for with a longer break before starting work again
  • Ensure you have regular time (a minimum of 24 hours) free of work in a 7 day period in which unrestricted sleep is possible
  • Ensure that you have a longer break between, and following, nightshifts
  • Maximise the opportunities to take short breaks while at work.