Medical errors increase following the spring change to daylight saving time

August 27, 2020

DARIEN, IL - Seeking medical care after springing forward to daylight saving time could be a risky proposition. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic found a statistically significant increase in adverse medical events that might be related to human error in the week after the annual time change in the spring.

The study is the first to examine patient safety-related adverse events in the week before and after the biannual time change. Preliminary results show that over an eight-year period, adverse events increased in the week following the time change in both the spring and fall; however, the only statistically significant change was an 18% increase in adverse events related to human errors following the change to daylight saving time in the spring. This increase was significantly greater than the 5% increase in human error-related safety incidents after the return to standard time in the fall.

"Medical errors can result in significant morbidity and mortality. We need to do everything to mitigate these risks," said lead author Dr. Bhanu Kolla, associate professor of psychiatry and psychology and consultant at the Center for Sleep Medicine at the Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota. "Our results indicate that the week following the spring time change might be a high-risk period for patient safety-related incidents. Health care organizations should factor this in and develop countermeasures to reduce this risk."

The authors suggested that the increase in medical errors may be related to sleep loss caused by the time change in the spring. Because of the risks to patient safety, the authors concluded that it might be best to eliminate daylight saving time.
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The research abstract was published recently in an online supplement of the journal Sleep and will be presented as a poster Aug. 28-30 during Virtual SLEEP 2020. SLEEP is the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.
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For a copy of the abstract, "Spring Forward, Fall Back: Increased Patient Safety-Related Adverse Events Following the Spring Time Change," or to arrange an interview with the study author or an AASM spokesperson, please contact AASM Communications Coordinator Corinne Lederhouse at 630-737-9700, ext. 9366, or [email protected].

About the American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Established in 1975, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) is advancing sleep care and enhancing sleep health to improve lives. The AASM has a combined membership of 11,000 accredited member sleep centers and individual members, including physicians, scientists and other health care professionals (aasm.org).

About the Sleep Research Society

The Sleep Research Society (SRS) is a professional membership society that advances sleep and circadian science. The SRS provides forums for the exchange of information, establishes and maintains standards of reporting and classifies data in the field of sleep research, and collaborates with other organizations to foster scientific investigation on sleep and its disorders. The SRS also publishes the peer-reviewed, scientific journals Sleep and Sleep Advances (sleepresearchsociety.org).

American Academy of Sleep Medicine

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