Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Patient Safety Tip: Avoid Afternoon Surgeries (And Friday Surgeries Too!)

A recent CNN article from a surgeon makes a good case for avoiding afternoon surgeries if at all possible.
The reason? Your surgical team might be sleepy. He argues:

Our bodies follow natural circadian rhythms, which regulate our sleep/wake cycle, brain wave activity and certain bodily functions. These circadian rhythms dip between 3 and 5 p.m. each day, causing many of us to feel sleepy.

I hear ya, Doc! Everyone hits a lull during the workday, especially after lunch. Combine that with a busy surgical schedule that often starts around 7:00 a.m., and it's easy to see why drowsiness and inattention might set in in the Operating Room.

From our experience in handling Ohio malpractice claims, I would add Friday surgeries to the list to avoid. Although not scientific, I have seen an anecdotal correlation between Friday surgeries and medical negligence. I recall distinctly two cases where physicians were in a hurry to "finish up" at the end of the day, and performed procedures that should have waited until the patients were more stable. Another involved a surgeon who made a mistake during the operation, and assumed the patient's immediate post-operative symptoms were "normal" when a CT scan would have revealed the surgical error. The patient was sent home, only to return the following Monday with life-threatening symptoms.

My best guess is that midweek morning is probably the best time to schedule any procedure. There is something to be said for "hump day" after all...

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