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Morning surgeries may be safer for Chicago patients

Although patients in Chicago in need of surgery expect to receive the best care while under the knife, no matter what time the surgery takes place, some studies suggest that patients should avoid afternoon surgeries.

Researchers from Duke University revealed a study from 2006 that suggested surgical errors, complications and injuries are more likely to occur during operations that begin between 3 and 4 p.m., even though physicians are expected to be able to perform safe surgeries all day and provide quality treatment to recovering patients at all times.

One doctor, who is also an assistant professor of surgery, said he believes this is due to two factors. One has to do with schedule changes, while the other is about the surgeon.

He said many times there is a major work shift change in the afternoon. When this shift change occurs during an operation, new nurses and surgery assistants will take over for those who are scheduled to leave. This means different medical personnel will be keeping track of the patient’s needs. Important details about the surgery or patient could be left out, which can be dangerous for the patient who is on the operating table.

The assistant professor said there is not much that can be done to avoid personnel shift changes, but patients can rest assured knowing that their surgeon will be there throughout the entire process.

As for the second reason, the doctor said a portion of the afternoon makes the human body tired, which is part of a natural circadian rhythm. When surgeons get sleepy while performing surgery, they could be more susceptible to making a surgical error.

The best time to have a procedure, according to the doctor, is in the morning, when most nurses and surgical teams are rested and ready for the procedure.

Preventable surgical errors can lead to serious injuries and put patients’ lives in danger. When a patient is injured during surgery or shortly after a procedure, he or she may have a valid medical malpractice claim. Pursuing medical malpractice claims may help victims recover compensation for their pain and suffering, but it could also protect other patients from suffering similar injuries in the future.

Source: CNN, “Why you should avoid afternoon surgery,” Dr. Anthony Youn, Nov. 27, 2012


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