Doctors Look at Anti-Sleep Drug To Get Through Shifts

By Sam Gibbs on at

There's no doubt that being a doctor is hard work. Long hours and little sleep, where one wrong move could be disastrous for the patient. But is turning to drugs to stay alert really the answer?

A recent study out of Imperial College London decided to take a look at whether modafinil, an anti-narcolepsy drug, could boast doctors' concentration levels after missing a night's sleep. 39 male doctors were tested for their ability to perform cognitive and surgery motor control tests. The half that were doped up on modafinil performed better in all cerebral tasks, but no improvement was seen in their surgical abilities.

This study brings into question whether doctors should be taking some sort of drug to help them keep going -- whether it would be better for patient care. They already equip themselves with caffeine and nicotine, what's another drug thrown into the mix? Problem is, we don't know quite how modafinil actually works. Would you trust your life to a sleep deprived but doped up doctor? Maybe you already have. [Annals of Surgery via New Scientist]

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