As Oregon residents may have unfortunately discovered firsthand, surgical errors can happen even during routine operations. During major surgical procedures, such as brain surgery, the risk of complications and potential for error increases. The American Council of Graduate Medical Education has recently recognized the possibility of error and implemented a rule limiting the number of hours that a physician in training, also called a resident, can be actively on the job.
According to the ACGME, a resident can spend no more than 80 hours every seven days at the hospital. The organization says that the limit will reduce physician fatigue and increase confidence, lowering the risk of surgical mistakes and preventable complications.
The regulation has been met with opposition. The dissenting physicians agree that fatigue can be an issue when performing surgery, but they say that all medical disciplines vary widely in regards to treatment and the time a patient may spend on the operating table. The rule limiting duty hours should not be “one-size-fits-all” across disciplines, they argue, adding that neurological conditions typically require lengthier operations, averaging between 4 and 6 hours. They believe that a duty limit could compromise a physician’s ability to perform a technically demanding procedure with the necessary care and patience needed for a successful outcome.
When a medical procedure goes wrong, it can result in serious injury, including paralysis, and even death. Individuals who have suffered injuries following an operation due to physician error, negligent operating room staff or a careless surgeon may want to seek compensation for their losses through a medical malpractice lawsuit filed with the assistance of an attorney against the at-fault provider or facility.