Long hours unhealthy for house officers
I REFER to the letter "Public's well-being matters, too" (NST, April 17). I salute the writer, who has been objective and has been careful not to generalise and put all house officers in the same basket or paint all of them with the same brush.
I agree that there will be a few weak ones in all professions, including the medical profession.
I have met weak medical consultants, specialists and medical officers, too, and that is the reason patients have the right to seek a second or third opinion.
Society must evolve and progress over time. It should not, and must not, stagnate.
The only issue is whether house officers are indeed working the maximum 60 hours per week and accorded two rest days per week, as claimed by the director-general of health.
That is the sole issue of contention.
The Employment Act 1955 mandates that "rest day" for "shift workers" must be a minimum continuous period of 30 hours and the definition of "week" is a continuous period of seven days. The question is: are those two provisions adhered to?
On the issue of quality and training, we must acknowledge that it isn't only trainees or interns who matter for the success of any training or development programme.
Of equal importance are the trainers or mentors, the methodology and a structured curriculum, coupled with periodical assessments and viva voce.
We must also accept and recognise the fact that logging an ungodly number of hours does not make anyone more competent or safe.
Scores of studies on productivity and human behaviour since time immemorial, conducted by universities and human resource experts the world over, have proven that it is counter productive and hazardous to work more than a certain number of hours per day.
Uncontrollable stress, burn-out, and mental and physical fatigue are the sure result of long and protracted hours of work, or any activity, for that matter.
B.C.N., Kuala Lumpur