Does your surgeon look too tired to be safe?
January 10, 2019
If you want to ensure that you’re safe through your surgery, it may be wise to take a close look at your surgeon when you arrive. Do they look too tired to safely operate? It’s a real concern and must be taken seriously.
After all, trusting someone to do surgery means trusting them with your life. Mistakes, even non-fatal ones, can lead to complications that haunt you forever. That’s not a risk you want to take, especially because your surgeon is just too tired to operate.
Would you trust an intoxicated surgeon?
The answer to the above question is obvious: Certainly you would not trust an intoxicated surgeon to operate on you. If you came in and the surgeon had bloodshot eyes and smelled like bourbon, you’d cancel the procedure or ask for someone else. It wouldn’t take a moment’s thought.
Well, if your surgeon looks too tired and you don’t say anything, you may be taking the same risk. In one report, medical experts had the following to say:
“Studies have shown that sleep deprivation impairs psychomotor performance as severely as alcohol intoxication. [A study] showed a significant increase in the risk of complications in patients who underwent elective daytime surgical procedures performed by attending surgeons who had less than a six-hour opportunity for sleep during a previous on-call night.”
The problem is this: If the surgeon is on call, he or she may just get to stay home and sleep, but you can’t predict it. If someone gets into a car accident or has a medical emergency, the hospital may call the surgeon in and have them perform a high-stress surgery with no clear timetable. They could wind up staying awake almost all night.
Even if they don’t get called in, just knowing that it’s possible may make it harder for the surgeon to relax. When that happens, they could get less than six hours of sleep.
Either way, you show up the next day and have a surgeon who barely slept the night before, but who is now scheduled to do a very complex procedure. If that’s the same as trusting a doctor who had been drinking all night long, why would you go through with it?
The unfortunate reality, of course, is that many patients simply don’t know how much sleep the surgeon got. The medical team doesn’t tell them and acts like it’s safe. They trust the doctor. They trust that everyone has their best interests at heart.
This trust can put you in real danger. If a surgeon makes serious, negligent mistakes, you have to know all of the legal options you have to seek compensation.