Fatigue and surgical errors

by | Dec 30, 2021 | medical malpractice

Louisiana residents who have surgery expect their surgeons to perform procedures expertly. However, medical malpractice can occur for a variety of reasons. One of the chief reasons behind surgical errors is fatigue.

Are surgical errors more common due to fatigue?

Surgeons are people just like anyone else, which is why mistakes can happen while they work. However, like any other medical professional, surgeons are held to a higher standard of care by their patients.

Studies have explored the link between surgical errors and fatigue. It determined that surgeons that are sleep-deprived are far more likely to make mistakes while performing surgeries. Surgical errors rank as one of the most common forms of medical malpractice.

Surgeons work long, tireless hours, which is why they often work while fatigued. When a doctor is overly fatigued, their cognitive function may be impaired. Memory can also be impacted. Surgical errors can happen as a result of these issues and leave patients injured.

What are the most common surgical errors?

Surgeons who are fatigued have a greater risk of committing an error during surgery. This type of medical malpractice can result in serious injuries for patients. There are numerous scenarios that could happen if surgeon fatigue leads to a surgical error:

  • A common surgical error involves leaving an object used during the surgery inside the patient. Often, this could be something like a sponge or medical instrument.
  • The surgeon might nick an internal organ or nerve during a surgical procedure, which can seriously injure the patient. Injuries could be temporary or even permanent.
  • A common surgical mistake is operating on the wrong body part of the patient or the wrong side of the patient’s body. However, even worse, the surgeon could perform a surgical procedure on the wrong patient altogether.
  • Another common surgical error that constitutes medical malpractice is when the surgeon makes an incision in the wrong location on a patient’s body.

All of these mistakes are common in situations where the surgeon is fatigued. A surgeon who is significantly sleep-deprived may behave as though they are intoxicated. Without adequate sleep, cognitive function is impaired and reasoning ability is diminished.