As we have often pointed out, the type of work performed by doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals dictate the standards to which their work is held-a standard of which any Chicago medical malpractice lawyer should know well. All actions that possibly impair the medical worker’s ability to perform error-free work places patients at risk of suffering injury and death. Those high stakes demands high standards.
Yesterday we reported on concerns that Chicago doctors may be more prone to fatigue than in other locations because of their high overtime rates. That fatigue has been vividly shown to lead to more Illinois medical mistakes and deadly complications. Along the same lines, some new research highlighted by Reuters this week show that alcohol may be more involved in surgical errors than previously thought.
Of course everyone would rightly condemn any surgeon who is under the influence of any drugs or alcohol when performing a medical operation. However, the new data suggests that the dangerous increased of error is seen even the day after a surgeon has consumed alcohol. This is particularly troubling news, because there are virtually no rules about how much a physician can drink before the day of a surgery.
One doctor involved in the study explained that “Historically, the medical professional has had a reputation for high rates of alcohol consumption. It is likely that surgeons are unaware that next-day surgical performance may be compromised as a result of significant alcohol intake.”
The testing for the study involved a group of students and doctors who performed a virtual surgical operation the morning after a night on the town. A similar group that had not any alcohol but also went out on the town acted as a control. The results found that both students and surgeons who had consumed alcohol the night before committed nearly twice as many errors. This was the case even though virtually all of the physicians had no detectable blood alcohol levels.
These results should be alarming to all those interested in ensuring the health and well-being of surgical patients. Our Chicago personal injury attorneys at Levin & Perconti are well versed in the tragedies resulting from mistakes made during surgical procedures. The fact that alcohol has this effect on errors, even when no longer detected in the bloodstream, demands more investigated. Perhaps policy changes are in order. The safety of patients must always remain the first priority for these medical professionals.
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