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Why are certain surgical errors more common in the mid-afternoon?

On Behalf of | Aug 5, 2018 | Surgical Errors

There are many things that impact the risk of something going wrong at the hospital, but many people are unaware that time of day can be a factor. Data shows that Delaware patients might want to reconsider mid-afternoon operations. There are a few reasons for this, but one major one is that certain surgical errors statistically increase for those with 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. start times.

A Duke University review found that anesthesiologists made more mistakes in the middle of the afternoon. The difference was significant; the probability of a mistake at 9 a.m. was 1 percent, compared to 4.2 percent at 4 p.m. Researchers believe this is due to something called a “circadian low,” often referred to in office settings as the “mid-afternoon slump.”

Another reason afternoon surgeries can be higher risk is because they are more likely to fall during a shift change. In some cases, shift changes mid-operation can mean a different team finishes the procedure than the one who starts it. While this is typically not problematic, one simple miscommunication can have dire consequences.

There are a other few issues researchers have identified with mid-afternoon visits. For example, doctors are statistically more likely to prescribe antibiotics as the day wears on, even if they are not helpful to a condition. Additionally, hospital employees are 38 percent less likely to wash their hands in the afternoon. Those who have experienced complications resulting from surgical errors due to any of the aforementioned issues should speak to a Delaware lawyer about their legal options.