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Hospitals Should Prevent Sleep-Deprived Doctors from Performing Surgery Elective Surgery

The Los Angeles Times reports, “Hospitals should not allow surgeons to perform elective procedures on patients if they have been awake the previous night taking calls, a trio of physicians argued in Thursday’s edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.”

CNN reports, “Absent such policies, sleep-deprived doctors should — at a minimum — tell their patients about their sleep status prior to performing any elective surgery, and offer those patients the opportunity to postpone the procedure or select a different surgeon,” the trio asserted in a perspective piece.

The Wall Street Journal “Health Blog” also cited the piece, which referred to a study noting an 83% increase in complications for surgery patients whose procedures are performed by surgeons with less than six hours of sleep between procedures.

That 2009 study, the Boston Globe “Daily Dose” blog added, named organ injury, wound failure, and massive hemorrhage among likely complications.

“Research suggests that sleep deprivation impairs a person’s psychomotor skills — those that require coordination and precision — as much as alcohol consumption and increases the risk of complications in patients whose surgeons failed to get much shuteye,” HealthDay reported.

MedPage Today reported that “while agreeing that fatigue reduces cognitive and technical performance, the American College of Surgeons called mandatory disclosure unwarranted.” In an accompanying letter, David B. Hoyt, MD, and colleagues, wrote, “We maintain that a call for mandatory disclosure essentially eliminates the necessary judgmental latitude surgeons should possess to determine their fitness for providing optimal patient care.” Hoyt and colleagues “cautioned about the slippery slope of requiring surgeons to disclose the number of hours they have slept, questioning whether disclosure of other personal factors that also negatively affect performance — such as marital difficulties or financial worries — would eventually be demanded.”

From the American Association for Justice news release.

Bob Kraft

I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law and Social Security Disability.

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The title of this blog reflects my attitude toward those government agencies and insurance companies that routinely mistreat injured or disabled people. As a Dallas, Texas lawyer, I've spent more than 45 years trying to help those poor folk, and I have been frustrated daily by the actions of the people on the other side of their claims. (Sorry if I offended you...)

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