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Study on sleep-deprived surgeons

Most people who are going in for surgery in New York have no idea how much sleep their surgeon got the night before the procedure. Patients who find out that their surgeon was sleep-deprived may be more nervous about letting them perform the operation. However, researchers from the University of Toronto say that sleep deprivation may not actually affect surgeons' ability to perform successful operations, and surgery-related problems occur at roughly the same rate whether or not a doctor has slept the night before.

The Toronto study looked at surgeries that were done by doctors who had treated patients between midnight and 7 a.m. and doctors who had not worked at all between those hours. Surgical errors occurred in 22.2 percent of the surgeries that were done by doctors who had worked the night before and in 22.4 percent of the surgeries that were done by doctors who had not worked the night before.

Critics of the study say that the results are inconsequential because researchers did not actually measure how much sleep the surgeons had received. Many of the surgeons who worked between midnight and 7 a.m. may have only performed one operation and then slept for several hours. A separate study done by the Journal of the American Medical Association determined that doctors who had received less than six hours of sleep had a surgery complication rate that was 170 percent greater than doctors who had slept longer.

Patients who have complications from surgery may require readmission to the hospital and further corrective procedures. Those who are in this situation may be able to pursue compensation for their ordeal by obtaining the assistance of an attorney in filing a medical malpractice claim against the health care providers who were responsible for the faulty surgical performance.

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