Surgical errors more likely when doctors under stress

Surgical errors more likely when doctors under stress

When people in Kentucky go to the hospital, they hope that their surgeon is having a good day. According to a Columbia University study, surgeons going through life stresses are much more likely to make surgical errors in the operating room. This not only applied to significant life problems; the results also held up when the source of stress was trivial and passing. Indeed, the researchers said that negative thoughts and loud voices in the operating room may be sufficient to trigger a notable level of stress, thus raising the risk of serious medical errors.

The study used special “smart shirts” worn by surgeons under their clothing while conducting surgery. The shirt measured heart rate, electrical impulses and other physical changes that could indicate heightened levels of stress. Other researchers documented mistakes made during surgery, including minor or insignificant errors with no effect on patient recovery. This analysis discovered that the risk of surgical errors could rise by up to 66 percent at the same time that stress signs were detected by the special shirt. When looking for the sources of stress involved, distractions in the hospital were significant factors. These included equipment alarms, side conversations and people leaving and entering the operating room.

As a result, researchers said that attention to these issues may help make surgery safer for patients by reducing unnecessary noises and distractions in the operating room during surgery. Each year, between 250,000 and 400,000 Americans lose their lives as a result of medical mistakes.

People who go into surgery may suffer serious consequences as a result of a doctor error, including severe injuries or permanent disabilities. People who have suffered a worsened health condition as a result may wish to contact a medical malpractice attorney to review their case and potentially move forward to seek compensation for their damages.

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