Frequent NY Times contributer Sandeep Jauhar has a piece in Slate talking about night float, where interns take a 12 to 14 hour shift overnight to cross-cover the entire hospital.
Sometimes the problem of caring for another doctor’s patients can lead to medical errors:
The nightmare of night float raises a central question about work limits for interns: Is it better to be cared for by a tired resident who knows your case or a rested resident who does not?
While capping resident’s work hours seems like a no-brainer, the very real downsides of doing so has been underpublicized.
As for my take, night float is where one grows the stones to become a real doctor. Taking care of 50-70 patients with a minimal safety net makes you learn what sick and SICK is in a hurry.
It make be hell for interns, but a necessary evil in medical training.