According to a recent study headed by a doctor at the University of Toronto, surgeon fatigue may not lead to increased errors during elective surgeries. If a patient had an elective surgery on a day where the surgeon had previously performed a procedure between 12 a.m. and 7 a.m., there was a 22.2 percent chance of an error. There was a 22.4 percent of an error if the surgeon had sufficient sleep the night before.
The author of the study says that the data shows that there is no need for doctors to inform patients if they are sleep-deprived. However, one doctor from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston says that the study may not be accurate. He had published a study on the subject of tired surgeons in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2009.
When the number of hours that a surgeon has slept is taken into consideration, he claims that the risk of an error triples. The Boston-based doctor believes that patients deserve to know if the surgeon who is operating on them has been awake for one or more full nights. The Canadian study did not take into account how many hours of sleep that a surgeon got prior to a procedure would constitute fully rested.
Although there are many reasons why a surgical mistake occurs, in some cases it could constitute medical malpractice. A patient whose condition has worsened as a result of such an error will often face high bills for the required additional care and treatment. An attorney who has experience in medical malpractice litigation can review the patient's hospital records and, with the help of a medical expert, make a determination as to whether the practitioner failed to exhibit the appropriate standard of care.