Study Reports Sleep-Deprived Surgeons Still Efficient at their Jobs
Based on the conclusions from several studies, lack of sleep can lead to cognitive complications the morning after. These studies have found that children and adults who are sleep deprived might experience temporary and mild cognitive decline and fatigue. Due to the effects of losing sleep, researchers have expressed concern over the long hours doctors work. Since doctors literally have people's lives in their hands, getting a good amount of sleep might be extremely important. However, according to a new study, surgeons who pulled an all-nighter are not any less efficient at their jobs than surgeons who slept throughout the night.
"Even if they [patients] have a surgeon who may be working long hours or is tired, they shouldn't be worried that he isn't capable of performing the surgery to the best of his ability," Danielle Nash, who worked on the study at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Long, Ontario, Canada, stated according to Reuters Health.
Nash and colleagues examined medical records on patients who received non-emergency gallbladder surgeries. The planned surgeries were done by 331 surgeons from 102 community hospitals in Ontario. The researchers were able to find out which surgeons operated during the night before the scheduled gallbladder surgeries by looking at the surgeons' billing for emergency procedures. They found that 2,078 surgeons had operated after pulling an all-nighter in comparison to 8,312 cases in which the doctors did not operate the night before the surgery.
The researchers found that being sleep deprived did not affect the surgeons' ability to perform gallbladder surgery. In two percent of the cases, surgeons had to make larger cuts than they originally planned due to other problems. Patients who had larger cuts needed to stay in the hospital longer and had a slower recovery time. Furthermore, the researchers found that under one percent of the cases, patients had a doctor-inflicted injury, such as a punctured blood vessel. In both of these situations, whether or not the surgeons operated the night before did not play a factor. The researchers also found that deaths within a month after surgery were extremely rare, but occurred at around the same rate for both groups of surgeons.
"We're trained from the get-go to be able to function to the best of our abilities under duress," commented Dr. Jordan Weinberg from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, who was not a part of the study. "The training now really emphasizes rest and breaks from duty, but in the real world, when you go into practice, those regulations don't exists."
The study's findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).