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"Researchers urge doctors to disclose sleep fatigue before surgery"

December 29, 2010

Following the release of an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, reports that research findings show a significant increase in fatigue related mistakes resulting in injuries for patients when resident surgeons work shifts that last at least 24 hours. Sureveys have found that a majority of patients awaiting an elective procedure would request a different provider if they were informed that their doctor was sleep deprived.

Michael Nurok, M.D., Ph.D., Charles A. Czeisler, Ph.D., M.D., and Lisa Soleymani Lehmann, M.D., Ph.D suggest a mandatory disclosure that would inform patients of their doctor's sleep status and give them the option to reschedule or select another provider if their doctor might be fatigued. Implementing this practice could "ultimately reduce institutional costs if outcomes are improved and complications reduced." The editorial, entitled "Sleep Deprivation, Elective Surgical Procedures, and Informed Consent" is in this week's issue of NEJM.

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