Healthcare workers can make additional mistakes in the days after the springtime switch to daylight saving time.
The Mayo Clinic healthcare system recommends voluntary reporting of patient safety incidents caused by faulty systems, equipment failure, or human error. The researchers used this data to examine errors over eight years in the seven days before and after the spring and fall time changes. The report is in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
Overall, there were no significant differences in errors in the weeks before and after the time changes. However, when the researchers narrowed the analysis down to human error only, they found that after losing an hour in the spring, the number of human errors increased by a statistically significant 18.7 percent. Most of the mistakes related to drugs that were given either the wrong dose or the wrong drug.
There was no significant difference in human error in the weeks before and after the standard time case switch.
The lead author, Dr. Bhanu Prakash Kolla, professor of psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said health organizations should be aware that the spring change is a time of increased risk and should make plans for it. But in the long run, he thinks, daylight saving time should probably be abandoned.
"With this clock change we got into a pattern," he said. "I don't see any advantage."