Health care workers may make more mistakes in the days following the switch to daylight saving time in the spring.
The Mayo Clinic Health System encourages voluntary reporting of any patient safety-related incidents caused by defective systems, equipment failure or human error. Researchers used this data to study errors over eight years in the seven days preceding and following the spring and fall time changes. The report is in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
Over all, there were no significant differences in errors in the weeks before and after the time changes. But when the researchers restricted the analysis to human error only, they found that after the loss of one hour in the spring, the number of human errors increased by a statistically significant 18.7 percent. Most of the errors involved medications, administering either the wrong dose or the wrong drug.
There was no significant difference in human errors in the weeks preceding and following the fall switch back to standard time.
The lead author, Dr. Bhanu Prakash Kolla, a professor of psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said that health care organizations should be aware that the spring change is a period of increased risk and should make plans for it. But in the long run, he thinks, daylight saving time should probably be abandoned.
“We’ve fallen into a pattern with this change of clocks,” he said. “I don’t see an upside to it.”