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Could time of day have an impact on surgical error?

Medical institutions, including surgical centers, are frequently reviewing their methods and histories to better understand why complications occur. Sometimes, people are harmed during a surgery due to the failure of a surgeon, whether the individual is fatigued, ill-prepared or negligent in some other way. A surgical error can lead to serious problems for a patient, potentially causing greater disability or even death. Individuals in Rhode Island may be interested to learn about recent published research that shows that the time of a surgery can affect complications due to surgery. 

A recent study suggests that up to 98,000 people die every year due to problems in surgery. Due to these vast numbers of deaths, it makes sense that researchers look for ways to understand why these events happen. Another study spanning seven years of data for more than 15,000 patients showed that the odds of a surgical complication increased by more than 50 percent if the surgery occurred after 9 p.m. and before 7 a.m.

Although it was postulated that part of the reason for the increase in complications are that more emergency operations happen at night, it also stands to reason that physicians may be overworked and fatigued by the evening. Another theory says that night shift staff may be less experienced and more prone to errors. The analysis of the data continues, but in the meantime, some have suggested that choosing an elective surgery earlier in the day may help eliminate possible errors. 

In Rhode Island, individuals can sometimes choose when they receive a surgery, and sometimes that decision is out of their hands. It is the responsibility of the surgical center to ensure that physicians are not overbooked and are able to have appropriate rest times. A fatigued surgeon can create a devastating surgical error. If an individual experiences damages as the result of a preventable surgical error, they may be able to file a lawsuit. An experienced and knowledgeable attorney can be a helpful guide for individuals who need representation for their medical malpractice lawsuit. 

Source:, "MultiBrief: Is time of day a factor for surgical complications?", Dorothy L. Tengler, Nov. 27, 2017

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