Prestigious medical journal article argues "No Operating Room time for tired doctors"
The New England Journal of Medicine published an article last month contending that surgeons who have been awake the previous night, taking calls, should not be allowed to perform elective surgery the following day. The doctors also suggest that patients should be informed by their doctor if he or she is operating with fewer than six hours of sleep, so that the patient can elect to postpone non-emergent operations. They point to research showing an 83 percent increase in complications when doctors operate with fewer than six hours sleep and suggest an ethical duty to inform patients when the surgeon has been up all night. In response to the "machismo" argument by surgeons that they can "address and manage sleep deprivation" without outside interference, the authors note that sleep-deprived individuals demonstrate a clearly-documented lack of judgment and an inability to assess their own intellectual capacity.