Surgeons' Disrupted Sleep Not a Safety Factor

Cheryl Clark, November 6, 2013

A study designed to assess the effect of disrupted sleep on surgeons finds that surgical complications did not increase when surgeons who operated on emergency cases during the midnight to 7 AM shift operated on scheduled patients later in the day.

Surgeons with disrupted sleep, who operated on patients between midnight and 7 AM., and on different patients undergoing elective gallbladder surgeries after 7AM, did not demonstrate higher rates of complications in the second set of patients.

That's the finding from a first-of-its kind study in Tuesday's JAMA that looked at outcomes from 2,078 elective laparoscopic cholecystectomies performed by 331 Canadian general surgeons. All of the surgeons had operated on different patients who needed emergency surgery between midnight and 7 AM.

The at-risk surgeries, defined as daytime procedures performed by surgeons who had operated hours earlier, were matched with four other procedures performed by the same doctors who had not been operating hours earlier.

"There was no evidence that operating the night before was associated with conversion to open cholecystectomy, the risk of iatrogenic complications, or death from elective laparoscopic surgery performed the next day," the authors wrote.

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