Increased Patient Safety-Related Incidents Following the Transition into Daylight Savings Time

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: “Spring forward,” the start of daylight savings time (DST), reduces sleep opportunity by an hour. Insufficient sleep in healthcare workers resulting from the spring forward time change could potentially result in an increase in medical errors. Objective: We examined the change in reported patient safety-related incidents (SRIs), in the week following the transition into and out of DST over a period of 8 years. Design: Observational study Setting: A US-based large healthcare organization with sites across multiple states Measurements: Voluntarily reported SRIs that occurred 7 days prior to and following the spring and fall time changes for years 2010–2017 were ascertained. SRIs likely resulting from human error were identified separately. The changes in the number of SRIs (either all SRIs or SRIs restricted to those likely resulting from human error) from the week before and after the time change (either spring or fall) were modeled using a negative binomial mixed model with a random effect to correct for non-independent observations in consecutive weeks. Results: Over the 8-year period, we observed 4.2% (95% CI: − 1.1 to 9.7%; p = 0.12) and 8.8% (95% CI: − 2.5 to 21.5%; p = 0.13) increases in overall SRIs in the 7 days following DST when compared with 7 days prior for spring and fall, respectively. By restricting to SRIs likely resulting from human errors, we observed 18.7% (95% CI: 5.6 to 33.6%; p = 0.004) and 4.9% (95% CI: − 1.3 to 11.5%; p = 0.12) increases for spring and fall, respectively. Conclusion: Policy makers and healthcare organizations should evaluate delayed start of shifts or other contingency measures to mitigate the increased risk of SRIs during transition to DST in spring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-54
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • medical error
  • patient safety
  • sleep deprivation
  • spring forward

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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