Patients Endangered by Fatigued Surgeons

August 21, 2013 | Crandall & Pera Law
Patients Endangered by Fatigued Surgeons

Surgeons have no regulations on how many surgeries they can perform in a given day, even though studies have found that surgical complications for patients can increase as much as 83 percent when a surgeon is not fully rested, according to an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine. 

Surgeons interviewed in a 2011 Georgia Regents University study believe fatigue has an effect on their "emotions, cognitive capability, and fine-motor skills," but few discussed the effect on patient safety. A 2008 study performed by the Royal College of Surgeons in London showed the dangers of muscle fatigue in a surgeon, noting it increases the longer the surgery takes.

While the Joint Commission sent out an alert in 2011 warning that fatigue increases risk of medical errors, compromises patient safety, and increases risk to personal well-being, it does not provide guidance on the number of surgeries that can be performed by a physician in a given day.

"It is expected that all surgical procedures are performed in accordance with current standards of professional practice," said James O'Hare, a New York state Health Department spokesman. Meanwhile, one orthopedic surgeon in the state is facing 261 medical malpractice lawsuits in NY state Supreme Court after harming many patients during his average of 17 surgeries per day. Read the full details here:

Studies: Tired surgeons a risk to patient safety

Medical malpractice and many wrongful death cases result when a surgeon is over tired, not well rested and not sharp during surgery. Each patient should be aware of their surgeon's schedule and pace before having surgery.

If you have been injured due to medical malpractice please call to investigate your matter fully. Crandall & Pera Law is available to help answer your questions and guide you in determining your next steps.