Researchers from the University of Toronto say that surgeons who spent the night before an operation working perform just as well as surgeon who spent the night sleeping.
They studied a group of 1.400 surgeons and compared the performances they gave when they were rested to those they gave when they operating in the morning after working a night shift.
They also looked at the 39.000 patients that the surgeons operated on and organized them into pairs. Each pair had one patient who had to undergo a specific procedure and was assigned a well rested surgeon, and one patient who had to undergo the same procedure, with the same surgeon, but after he spend the night before the surgery working.
After looking at all the data, the research team came to the conclusion that patients who were operated on by a well rested surgeon were given a 22.2 percent (22.2%) chance of reporting surgery-related issues, and the patients who were operated on by a tired surgeon were given a 22.4 percent (22.4%) chance of reporting surgery-related issues.
On top of this, surgeons didn’t even take more time to complete a procedure after spending the night before an operation treating other patients. Both well rested surgeons and tired surgeons took an average of 2.6 hours to finish an operation.
It’s important to note that these findings stayed the same when the researchers compared younger surgeons to older surgeons, and surgeons who were employed at an academic hospital to surgeons who were employed at a private hospital.
Dr. Nancy Baxter, St. Michael’s Hospital’s surgery division chief and senior author on the study, offered a statement informing that “I believe what we are seeing in our study reflects self-regulation — that surgeons plan around their schedules based on their individual ability to tolerate sleep deprivation. Given our findings, they seem to be doing a good job of it”.
But she also insisted on describing a potentially dangerous scenario. She said that if hospitals were to take away a doctor’s ability to self-regulate their own work when they have to be on call after working a night shift, “the potential to cause harm” would actually become very real.
Dr. Baxter insisted that sleep deprivation has an effect on all of us. The key difference is that certain people deal with it well, while other people deal with it poorly. But the only person that can judge how certain doctor handles sleep deprivation is the doctor himself.
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