Mornings are the best time for surgery to avoid medical mistakes

More medical mistakes made in afternoon surgery

14.08.2006

More complications occur when surgery is performed in the afternoon, according to a US team at Duke University.

They reviewed over 90,000 operations and found that medical mistakes were most common when surgery started between 3pm and 4pm and least common with 9am-noon operations.

Possible causes for these findings include natural changes in the body's pain levels during the day and staff fatigue. Although it is not thought that any of the complications had a long-term impact on the patients; most problems were related to pain management and postoperative nausea and vomiting.

However, Professor Alistair Chambers, honorary secretary of the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is keen to point out that these findings need to be replicated, highlighting that working hours and procedures differ between hospitals and countries.

"But it is interesting. It perhaps does mean that we should caution against suggesting that we go to round-the-clock operating to get better use of operating theatres."

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