More than half of Redland Hospital junior doctors worried they will make a clinical mistake due to exhaustion: AMA Queensland

FATIGUE: Of the Redlands junior doctors surveyed, 53 per cent said they were worried about making a clinical error due to fatigue.
FATIGUE: Of the Redlands junior doctors surveyed, 53 per cent said they were worried about making a clinical error due to fatigue.

MORE than half of junior doctors in the Redlands are worried they will make a clinical mistake due to fatigue, according to the latest public hospital report card from the Australian Medical Association Queensland.

The Resident Hospital Health Check compares employment conditions at public hospitals across the state, with data gathered from a survey of 730 interns, house officers and other junior doctors.

AMA Queensland Council of Doctors in Training chair Maddison Taylor said 53 per cent of Redlands trainee doctors surveyed reported concerns about making an error due to fatigue caused by the number of hours they had worked.

This was up from 41 per cent in the 2018 survey.

"As evidenced in the survey, doctors in training are working exceedingly long hours ... this predisposes us to burnout and increases the rates of anxiety and depression," Dr Taylor said.

Metro South executive director of medical services, Susan O'Dwyer, said the health service had a range of strategies including rostering arrangements and on-site sleeping accommodations to minimise fatigue.

"Working conditions including overtime and fatigue are closely monitored as part of monthly reporting processes and discussed as standing agenda items by hospital executive to ensure any issues identified can be addressed," Dr O'Dwyer said.

The report also revealed half of all respondents at Redland Hospital said their safety had been compromised at work, up from 35 per cent in 2018.

Dr Taylor said despite a drop from last year, rates of bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment also remained too high in Queensland's public hospitals.

"The overall proportion of junior doctors (across Queensland) who personally experienced these behaviours has decreased from 39 per cent in 2019 to 34 per cent this year, however the rate of staff witnessing bullying, discrimination or sexual harassment of a colleague has stayed the same at just over 40 per cent," she said.

"Of those who experienced or witnessed bullying, discrimination or sexual harassment, less than one-third reported the incident, and only 65 per cent felt the matter was handled adequately when they did report it. We need to do better."

Dr O'Dwyer said Metro South Health had 24/7 onsite security presence, CCTV, duress alarms and alerts in the emergency department to prevent violence.

"Metro South Health has zero tolerance for bullying and workplace harassment. Reports of inappropriate behaviour are dealt with seriously and promptly. All staff receive training on dealing with bullying, discrimination and workplace harassment," she said.

"We continue to work with all our staff, including our junior doctors, to ensure we continue to support their needs, listen to their views and keep Metro South Health at the forefront of healthcare."

Meanwhile, six per cent of junior doctors in Redlands said they were advised not to claim 'unrostered' overtime by an administrative officer or senior medical officer.

This was a significant decrease from 35 per cent in 2018.

About 11 per cent reported that they had not been fully paid for overtime hours worked, down from nearly 25 per cent in 2018.

Dr Taylor said hospitals needed to be supportive, safe places for Queensland's newest generation of doctors.

"Doctors need to be able to work in healthy hospitals so they can provide the best possible patient care and thrive in their careers," she said.

A Queensland Health spokesman encouraged staff members to speak with their line manager or relevant branch if they had feedback about their workplace.

"All feedback is welcomed and we appreciate the work the Australian Medical Association Queensland does to highlight the issues our junior doctors face," the spokesman said.