Motor Vehicle Incidents Common in Medical Residents

Internal medicine residents commonly experience incidents, including crashes and near misses

FRIDAY, Dec. 21 (HealthDay News) -- During training, internal medicine residents commonly experience motor vehicle incidents, including crashes and near misses, but less commonly experience blood and body fluid (BBF) exposures, according to research published in the December issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Colin P. West, M.D., Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues studied data from 340 of 384 eligible internal medicine residents (88.5 percent response rate) at the Mayo Clinic to evaluate the effect of distress on their personal safety. The residents reported BBF exposures, and motor vehicle incidents were recorded. Quality of life (QOL), burnout, symptoms of depression, fatigue, and sleepiness were evaluated.

The researchers found that, overall, 56.0 percent of residents reported a motor vehicle incident, including 34 motor vehicle crashes and 130 near-misses. During the study period, 7.6 percent reported having at least one BBF exposure. The number of BBF exposures during the subsequent three months was not statistically significantly related to fatigue and distress at one time point. The odds of reporting a motor vehicle incident were statistically significantly increased by diminished quality of life, burnout, positive screening for depression, fatigue, and/or sleepiness.

"Exposures to BBF are relatively uncommon among internal medicine residents in current training environments. Motor vehicle incidents, however, remain common," the authors write. "Our results suggest that fatigue, sleepiness, burnout, depression, and reduced QOL are associated with an increased risk of future motor vehicle incidents. In addition to ongoing efforts to limit physician fatigue and sleepiness, interventions to promote well-being and reduce distress among physicians are needed to improve both patient and resident safety."

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