Rack this one up in the “Duh!” category, but it just seems so obvious that a group of over-tired and fatigued people operating in a critical function are going to make serious mistakes. Do they not read some of their own research literature on the effects of sleep deprivation?!
I still do not understand why this persists, except for my experience in too many places where “doing what we had to do” is the rationale for continuing very stupid practices.
I was reading a bio piece by a former SAS guy recently, in which he talked about sleep as being a key factor in survival, and how he was fully aware that his lack of sleep was affecting his judgements and he made specific plans to ensure that he could safely sleep to get himself in good shape to do what he had to do.
I’ve yet to hear a good argument for allowing medical staff (both docs and nurses) to work in ways we would never allow airline pilots to do.
[Update... here's the official advice on what to do about fatigue if you're a doc who's exhausted... just drink 6 cups of coffee a day... :-)]