Residency

Should institutions develop policies requiring surgeons to disclose fatigue?

Residency Program Insider, January 4, 2011

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Prominent sleep researchers say that institutions should have policies in place to prevent fatigued surgeons—trainees or more experienced physicians—from performing elective procedures.

If institutions do not implement such policies, fatigued physicians should inform patients of their sleep status before an elective surgery. Patients should have the right to reschedule the surgery or choose a different physician, researchers said in the Dec. 30 New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers focused their editorial article on elective surgery because these procedures are easier to reschedule, unlike emergent or urgent surgeries, such as a car accident case, for example. However, it’s up to surgeons feeling sleep-deprived to reschedule the surgeries, which they may not always choose to do. Having a policy in place helps facilitate the decision to cancel the elective procedure.

Read more in the New England Journal of Medicine.
 



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