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Lack of sleep may not affect surgical outcome

As some Oregon residents know, sleep deprivation may affect job performance. A new study looks at whether a lack of sleep affects a surgeon’s performance the next day. Since some health care advocates are calling for regulation requiring a surgeon to disclose to patients how much sleep he or she had, the latest study opines it might not be necessary.

The latest study, published in a prominent medical journal, used data acquired from 147 Ontario hospitals. It purveyed 39,000 surgeries with 1,448 surgeons. All surgeons in the study were experienced. The results showed that there was a negligible statistical difference in the surgery’s outcome when the surgeon worked the night before. The study discounted factors such as the surgeon’s age or the specific type of surgery or hospital.

In 2009, another study showed direct causation between risk and sleep deprivation. It reviewed outcomes of 4,471 surgeries, related to the amount of sleep the surgeon had prior to surgery. This study used a quantitative approach, measuring the specific amount of sleep the surgeon had, while the newer study looks at whether the surgeon slept during specific hours. The 2009 study showed an increase in the risk of complications by 170 percent when the surgeon slept less than six hours the night before.

Surgical errors may result in harm to the patient as well as the need for additional surgery or medical treatment. Such complications may impact physically and financially on the patient. When this occurs, speaking to an attorney may be beneficial. An attorney may review pertinent medical records to see if the surgeon’s performance was below the standard of care. If so, the attorney may help by filing a malpractice suit to recover damages.