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Dec 2011

Surgeon Sleep Deprivation and Outcomes in Cardiac Surgery: Common Sense, Machismo, and Statistics

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Division of Cardiac Surgery, University of Verona Medical School, Italy.

Arch Surg. 2011;146(12):1453-1454. doi:10.1001/archsurg.2011.1003

We read with interest the prospective observational cohort study by Chu and coworkers1 reporting no effect of consultant cardiac surgeon sleep deprivation on postoperative outcomes. Overall, sleep deprivation strongly impairs human functioning, including mood and cognitive and/or motor performance. In medical practice, this issue of sleep deprivation has captured the public's attention in view of the potential role of attending and resident physicians' fatigue in the occurrence of medical errors. Patients expect efficiency. Indeed, as Hippocrates swore by Apollo the physician and all the gods, doctors should prescribe regimens for the good of their patients according to their best ability and judgment, both of which are attributes of a doctor who is supposed to be lucid and circumspect. As any doctor experienced in daily practice knows, this is not the case after sleep deprivation. To practice in such circumstances should therefore be discouraged (common sense).

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