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Nurses favor capping work hours for surgeons more than surgeons

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.