In a very interesting piece for CNN Health, assistant professor of surgery at the Oakland University/William Beaumont School of Medicine in Michigan Dr. Anthony Youn responds to a recent study which posits that medical mistakes occur at higher rates during surgeries that have started during afternoon hours from 3 P.M. and 4 P.M.
The study which Dr. Youn is responding to was performed at Duke University, and is called “Time of Surgery Influences Rate of Adverse Health Events Due to Anesthesia.” During their study period, the Duke team found 2,693 events which they categorized as either “medical errors,” “medical harm,” or “other adverse event”. Of these surgical mistakes, the largest percentage occurred in procedures which started between 3 P.M. and 4 P.M.
Afternoon Surgical Errors
Dr. Youn and the Duke team have some ideas about why surgical mistakes are happening at higher rates during the afternoon. Here are the two most plausible:
The “Circadian Dip” — This term refers to the behavior of most people’s circadian rhythm. This rhythm is what keeps you awake and makes you sleepy, maintaining brain functions. The circadian dip occurs around 3/4 p.m., and it is what makes you feel so tired. So researchers are suggesting that surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, and other medical professionals present during your afternoon surgery may be experiencing a circadian dip at sometime during the procedure. This could slow their brain functioning and cause them to make errors.
The “Shift Change” — Something which also occurs during 3/4 p.m. in many hospitals is a shift change. Doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists who arrive at work around 6/7 a.m. are often ending their shifts around 3 o’clock. The result of this is that, sometimes, the team that begins surgery on a patient is not always the team that finishes the surgery. Issues of miscommunication (and other problems) can arise when a medical professional does not see a procedure through from beginning to end.
These are just the most discussed answers to the mysterious afternoon surgery problem. This issue will surely be studied further in coming years, and, hopefully, researchers can come to some more concrete answers.
Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Philadelphia
It is always a good idea to stay informed on surgical errors, misdiagnoses, and other medical malpractice issues. We all need medical attention at some point in their lives, and it is good to know what to look out for, what to avoid, and who to speak to if something goes wrong. Read the other medical malpractice articles on the Carpey Law website for more information from a medical malpractice lawyer in Philadelphia, or call and speak with a medical malpractice lawyer in Philadelphia today.
Stuart A. Carpey, who has been practicing as an attorney since 1987, focuses his practice on complex civil litigation which includes representing injured individuals in a vast array of personal injury cases.