Transportation workers in New Jersey, like train operators and airplane pilots, routinely have restrictions placed on their work hours to promote safety. A poll that sought the views of surgeons and operating room nurses on work hour caps discovered a disparity between the two professions. Caps on operating room work hours received 87 percent approval from nurses and advanced-practice nurses compared to only 57 percent of surgeons.
Nursing professionals also favored capping work hours for all operating room workers, including anesthesiologists and nurses, at a rate of 89 percent of nurses versus 62 percent of physicians. One orthopedic surgeon expressed concerns about comparing surgeons to airline pilots. Unlike pilots who have co-pilots ready to take over at any point, surgeons do not have a replacement standing by. Additionally, people probably would not want to pay for two surgeons.
The poll also addressed impairment from drug or alcohol use. A higher percentage of nurses expressed approval for impairment monitoring compared to surgeons at 82 percent versus 62 percent. A surgeon who commented on the poll agreed that monitoring for fatigue and impairment could reduce surgical errors but worried about how the monitoring would be done.
All medical professionals have a duty to meet accepted standards of care. When medical mistakes happen because a physician, nurse or health care facility failed to follow basic guidelines, a victim of a medical error might succeed with a claim of negligence. An attorney could review the case and provide an opinion about the chances of a malpractice claim recovering damages. To build a case, an attorney will seek the opinion testimony of one or more medical experts.