Ontario-based study yields surprising results

On behalf of: admin | Posted in: Wrongful Death on: Thursday, September 3, 2015

A recent study analysing the medical records of nearly 40,000 Ontario patients was published this year in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers concluded that physicians who worked all night prior to operating on patients the following morning did not endanger their surgical patients.

Patients participating in the study underwent one of a dozen types of elective surgeries in either community or academic hospitals. The research indicated that when physicians stayed up between midnight and 7 a.m. working, and then went into the operating theatre for surgery, their patients had no "higher risk of adverse outcomes than if their physician had not provided medical services the previous night."

The impact of sleep deprivation on medical professionals has long been cited as a potential patient hazard.

One of the study’s senior researchers from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences commented on the findings:

"This is the first . . . large-scale study . . . conducted on sleep deprivation for staff physicians and surgeons and its impact on patient[s] [in] a range of academic and community hospital settings."

When compared to the results of surgical patients whose doctors had not worked the previous night, there were no apparent differences in the following:

— Length of hospitalisation

— Surgical complications

— Deaths

— Hospital re-admissions

— Length of the surgeries

However, the senior researcher conceded that the experience of the physician could outweigh the negative consequences of sleep deprivation and counteract negative performances.

Surgeons who felt impaired by fatigue may also be pro-actively shifting surgical loads to others out of concern for safety.

While the study is indeed interesting, it is not the final word on sleep-deprived medical professionals responsible for egregious errors that cause injury and death to their patients. Those who suffered needlessly from medical negligence can turn to Ontario’s courts for a chance to pursue justice and financial compensation.

Source: Daily Mail, "Are sleep-deprived doctors REALLY more dangerous to their patients? Study claims staying up all night ‘doesn’t impair medics’ abilities’," Lizzie Parry for MailOnline, Aug. 27, 2015

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